Thursday, December 27, 2007

Avebury: south-east quadrant

All that remains

A tree, a branch
roots that curl and burrow
through the chalk.

A whisper in the leaves
a skylark's glorious
defiant song.

Snails along the path
rain that washes all away
and wheat again as tall as ever.

A life, a smile
reaching out and touching others
changing imperceptibly
the fabric of our universe.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

South to Silbury

The Ridgeway

like a friend
I hated you at times
the paces you put me through
each time I go further and faster
so I always know how the pilgrims felt on their way
to silbury
and the stones of Avebury and


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Salisbury Plain. Image credit Cowley: circa 1744

Tuppence worth of imagination

I am told that there are people who do not care for maps, and find it hard to believe. The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the roads and rivers, the pre-historic footpaths of man still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druid Circle on the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see, or tuppence worth of imagination to understand with.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Stonehenge by John Constable: circa 1836

The Broken Circle

I STOOD On Sarum's treeless plain,
The waste that careless Nature owns;
Lone tenants of her bleak domain,
Loomed huge and gray the Druid stones.

Upheaved in many a billowy mound
The sea-like, naked turf arose,
Where wandering flocks went nibbling round
The mingled graves of friends and foes.

The Briton, Roman, Saxon, Dane,
This windy desert roamed in turn;
Unmoved these mighty blocks remain
Whose story none that lives may learn.

Erect, half buried, slant or prone,
These awful listeners, blind and dumb,
Hear the strange tongues of tribes unknown,
As wave on wave they go and come.

"Who are you, giants, whence and why?"
I stand and ask in blank amaze;
My soul accepts their mute reply
"A mystery, as are you that gaze.

"A silent Orpheus wrought the charm
From riven rocks their spoils to bring;
A nameless Titan lent his arm
To range us in our magic ring.

"But Time with still and stealthy stride,
That climbs and treads and levels all,
That bids the loosening keystone slide,
And topples down the crumbling wall,--

"Time, that unbuilds the quarried past,
Leans on these wrecks that press the sod;
They slant, they stoop, they fall at last,
And strew the turf their priests have trod.

"No more our altar's wreath of smoke
Floats up with morning's fragrant dew;
The fires are dead, the ring is broke,
Where stood the many stand the few."

My thoughts had wandered far away,
Borne off on Memory's outspread wing,
To where in deepening twilight lay
The wrecks of friendship's broken ring.

Ah me! of all our goodly train
How few will find our banquet hall!
Yet why with coward lips complain
That this must lean, and that must fall?

Cold is the Druid's altar-stone,
Its vanished flame no more returns;
But ours no chilling damp has known,--
Unchanged, unchanging, still it burns.

So let our broken circle stand
A wreck, a remnant, yet the same,
While one last, loving, faithful hand
Still lives to feed its altar-flame!

O H Holmes (1887)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Silbury Hill beneath the clear dark sky. Image credit Thelma Wilcox

Unchanged it stands

Unchanged it stands: it awes the lands
Beneath the clear dark sky;
But at what time its head sublime
It heavenward reared, and why -
The gods that see all things that be
Can better tell than I.

Rev A C Smith