Friday, September 17, 2010

So proud to hint

Pile of Stone-henge! So proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets, thou lov'st to stand and hear
The plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year.

William Wordsworth

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Adam's Grave, Wiltshire. Image credit Gordon Kingston

Their presence

‘Neath Adam’s Grave I push “large chips”
down through my teeth and grasping lips...

Didn’t Strabo state that ancients ate
Their fathers’ bodies on a plate;
And drank the fluid that now gets hid
In a silver cup, under a silver lid?
Somehow their presence is up here still;
Watching me watching, on the hill.

Gordon Kingston

Saturday, September 04, 2010

It runs like a green ribbon

Richard Jefferies was a novelist, naturalist and a mystic; he grew up in a house (now the Richard Jefferies Museum) close to Coate Water on the outskirts of Swindon. In his book, Wildlife in a Southern County, published in 1879, Jefferies writes of the Ridgeway -

A broad green track runs for many a long, long mile across the downs, now following the ridges, now winding past at the foot of a grassy slope, then stretching away through a cornfield and fallow. It is distinct from the wagon-tracks which cross it here and there, for these are local only, and, if traced up, land the wayfarer presently in a maze of fields, or end abruptly in the rickyard of a lone farmhouse. It is distinct from the hard roads of modern construction which also at wide intervals cross its course, dusty and glaringly white in the sunshine... With varying width, from twenty to fifty yards, it runs like a green ribbon... a width that allows a flock of sheep to travel easily side by side.

Richard Jefferies (1848-1887)

Section of the Ridgeway near Wayland's Smithy. Image credit Moss

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Cerne Abbas, or Dorset, Giant

Image credit LordHarris. Wikipedia Commons

The Cerne Abbas giant is, "...on a hillside near the village of Cerne Abbas, to the north of Dorchester, in Dorset, England. The 180 ft (55 m) high, 167 ft (51 m) wide figure is carved into the side of a steep hill, and is best viewed from the opposite side of the valley or from the air. The carving is formed by a trench 12 in (30 cm) wide, and about the same depth, which has been cut through grass and earth into the underlying chalk. In his right hand the giant holds a knobbled club 120 ft (37 m) in length. A 1996 study found that some features of the image have changed over time; notably, the study concluded that the figure originally held a cloak in its left arm and stood over a disembodied head.

"The figure's origin and age is unknown. Early antiquarians associated it with a Saxon deity, though there is little evidence for such a connection. Other scholars sought to identify it with a Celtic British figure or the Roman Heracles, or some syncretization of the two. The 1996 discoveries strengthened the identification with Heracles, who was often depicted wielding a club and carrying a cloak made from the Nemean Lion. However, since the first descriptions of the figure do not appear until the mid-18th century, many scholars conclude that it is not significantly older than that. Regardless of its age, the Cerne Abbas giant has become an important part of local culture and folklore, which often associates it with fertility."

Source Wikipiedia

The counties

But I want to write to an Essex girl,

greeting her warmly.

But I want to write to a Shropshire lad,

brave boy, home from the army,

and I want to write to the Lincolnshire Poacher

to hear of his hare

and to an aunt in Bedfordshire

who makes a wooden hill of her stair.

But I want to post a rose to a Lancashire lass,

red, I'll pick it,

and I want to write to a Middlesex mate

for tickets for cricket.

But I want to write to the Ayrshire cheesemaker

and his good cow

and it is my duty to write to the Queen at Berkshire

in praise of Slough.

But I want to write to the National Poet of Wales at Ceredigion

in celebration

and I want to write to the Dorset Giant

in admiration

and I want to write to a widow in Rutland

in commiseration

and to the Inland Revenue in Yorkshire

in desperation.

But I want to write to my uncle in Clackmannanshire

in his kilt

and to my scrumptious cousin in Somerset

with her cidery lilt.

But I want to write to two ladies in Denbighshire,

near Llangollen

and I want to write to a laddie in Lanarkshire,

Dear Lachlan …

But I want to write to the Cheshire Cat,

returning its smile.

But I want to write the names of the Counties down

for my own child

and may they never be lost to her …

all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire...

Carol Ann Duffy