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Megalithic Poems
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Ancient Monuments

They bide their time of serpentine
Green lanes, in fields, with railings
Round them and black cows; tall, pocked
And pitted stones, grey, ochre-patched
With moss, lodgings for lost spirits.

Sometimes you have to ask their
Whereabouts. A bent figure, in a hamlet
Of three houses and a barn, will point
Towards the moor. You will find them there,
Aloof lean markers, erect in mud.

Long Meg, Five Kings, Nine Maidens,
Twelve Apostles: with such familiar names
We make them part of ordinary lives.
On callow pasture-land
The Shearers and The Hurlers.

Sometimes they keep their privacy
In public places: nameless slender slabs
Disguised as gate-posts in a hedge; and some,
For centuries on duty as scratching posts,
Are screened by ponies on blank uplands.

Search out the furthest ones, slog on
Through bog, bracken, bramble: arrive
At short granite footings in a plan
Vaguely elliptical, alignments sunk
In turf strewn with sheep's droppings;

And wonder whether it was this shrunk place
The guide-book meant, or whether
Over the next ridge the real chamber,
Accurate by the stars, begins its secret
At once to those who find it.

Turn and look back. You'll see horizons
Much like the ones they saw,
The tomb-builders, millennium ago;
The channel scratched by rain, the same old
Sediment of dusk, winter returning.

Dolerite, porphyry, gabbro fired
At the earth's young heart: how those men
Handled them. Set on back-breaking
Geometry, the symmetries of solstice,
What they awaited we, too, still wait.

Looking for something else, I came once
To a cromlech in a field of barley,
Whoever framed that field had real
Priorities. He sowed good grain
To the tombs doorstep. No path.

Led to the ancient death. The capstone,
Set like a cauldron on three legs,
Was marooned by the swimming crop.
A gust and the cromlech floated,
Motionless at time's moorings.

Hissing dry sibilance, chafing
Loquacious thrust of seed
This way and that, in time and out
Of it, would have capsized
The tomb. It stayed becalmed.

The bearded foam, rummaged
By wind from the westerly sea-track,
Broke short not over it. Skirted
By squalls of that year's harvest,
That tomb belonged in that field.

The racing barley, erratically-bleached
Bronze, cross-hatched with gold
And yellow, did not stop short its tide
In deference. It was the barley's
World. Some monuments move.

John Ormond

Possibly dedicated to Alexander Thom (1894-1985)

See also http://www.themodernantiquaria[...]m/?thread=23046&message=568747

Reply | with quote
Posted by Littlestone
19th March 2005ce

300 replies:

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Re: Megalithic Poems (Pixxx)
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Rev. James Creichton (Littlestone)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (Littlestone)
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Thomas Wharton (nigelswift)
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Anon: The fort of Rathangan (PeterH)
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Donny McIntyre: Us, soldiers of the stony hearth (follow that cow)
Anon: Soldiers in grey (nigelswift)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (follow that cow)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (moss)
William Camden (Littlestone)
Re: Michael Longley (Wiggy)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (Cloch Mor)
Nigel Swift: The Quarryman's Lament (nigelswift)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (nigelswift)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (Littlestone)
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poem o/t (follow that cow)
Lucan: Et vos barbaricos (Littlestone)
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Re: Megalithic Poems:- Alexander Thom: Ancient Mon (Jane)
Isabel Makes Love Upon National Monuments (Pete G)
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Henry James on Stonehenge (moss)
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Re: Megalithic Poems:- Alexander Thom: Ancient Monuments (slumpystones)
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Samuel Pepys' diary account of visit to Avebury (nigelswift)
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Re: Megalithic Poems:Stonehenge : Alan M. Kent (tiompan)
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Re: Megalithic Poems:- Alexander Thom: Ancient Mon (tiompan)
Re: Megalithic Poems:- Alexander Thom: Ancient Monuments (Bunnymen)
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Re: Megalithic Poems:- Alexander Thom: Ancient Mon (tiompan)
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The Great Leader (gjrk)
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Maulatanvally (gjrk)
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Bohonagh (gjrk)
Re: Megalithic Poems (poddy)
Knockawaddra (gjrk)
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Megalithic mishap (gjrk)
Megalithic mishap (gjrk)
Re: Megalithic Poems (moss)
Persephone Vandegrift: Henge of stones... (Littlestone)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (handofdave)
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Anon: At the feet of rubber wheels (Littlestone)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (albion)
Eugène Guillevic: Carnac (Littlestone)
Matthew Arnold: Stanzas Composed at Carnac (Littlestone)
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Re: Megalithic Poems (tiompan)
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Just a thank you (Littlestone)
H G Wells: The Secret Places of the Heart (Littlestone)
Belderg by Seamus Heaney (moss)
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Veronica Milvus : Arbor Low (nigelswift)
Juleigh Howard-Hobson:Coming Upon A Stone Circle.. (nigelswift)
Shuntaro Tanikawa: One of the Haniwa (Littlestone)
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(Ascribed to) William Rowley: The Birth of Merlin (nigelswift)
John Harris: Destruction of the Cornish Toman (Littlestone)
A SLOW DANCE by John Montague (1975) (Zariadris)
Every stone that sings with memory (Littlestone)
John William Burgon: Petra (nigelswift)
Kettley Crag (Littlestone)
Re: Megalithic Poems (tiompan)
O'Hartigan: Hill of Tara (Littlestone)
Life on the Chalk Downs: Persephone Vandegrift (Littlestone)
Tour to the Hebrides: James Boswell (Littlestone)
Index (Littlestone)
John Greenleaf Whittier: Worship (nigelswift)
William Stukeley: At Winterburn-basset (Littlestone)
Merlin and the Gleam by Lord Alfred Tennyson (dodge one)
Re: Megalithic Poems (Branwen)
The Ballad of Lord Soulis and the Nine Stane Rig (Branwen)
The Song of the Ley (baza)
Gordon Kingston - Staring at the Sun (nigelswift)
The Megaliths: Norman Nicholson (Littlestone)
Re: Megalithic Poems (bernie)
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Only a dream: Gordon Kingston (Littlestone)
Edith Nesbit - The Story of the Amulet (nigelswift)
Re: Megalithic Poems (ocifant)
Re: Megalithic filmpoems (Tim Cumming)
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Edward Thomas: The South Country (Littlestone)
Susan Cooper - The Dark Is Rising (thesweetcheat)
Hatfield Barrow: James Norris (Littlestone)
The Druid: William Stukeley (Littlestone)
Bodowyr: Gordon Kingston (Littlestone)
The counties: Carol Ann Duffy (Littlestone)
Atop Knap Hill by Julian Cope: A Variation (gjrk)
Standing Stane: Laureen Johnson (Littlestone)
The Ruin (Littlestone)
Avebury, from Experience of Life, Elizabeth Sewell (nigelswift)
Wayland's Smithy: Job Cork (Littlestone)
Mr Sludge the Medium: Robert Browning (Littlestone)
Re: Rite (tjj)
John Montague: Like dolmens round my childhood (Littlestone)
Downland Man: H J Massingham (Littlestone)
Search engine (Littlestone)
George Monkland - The Invitation (VBB)
Stone (PMM)
Rudyard Kipling: A Charm (Littlestone)
Re: Megalithic Poems (Howburn Digger)
Re: Megalithic Poems (Howburn Digger)
Re: Megalithic Poems (tiompan)
Geoff Butts: Avebury (moss)
Gillian Clarke -Stone (moss)
Jan Morris: In their lichened faceted faces (Littlestone)
The oldest poem of them all... (Littlestone)
Jeremy Hooker: Chalk (Littlestone)
Re: Megalithic Poems (Evergreen Dazed)
Rev. F. Kilvert : And bold profaners evil will betide (Littlestone)
Eric The Gardener (thesweetcheat)
T S Eliot: Four Quartets (Littlestone)
Gillian Clarke: Sheila Na Gig at Kilpeck (Littlestone)
'twas the night before solstice (Littlestone)
In Pursuit of Spring (Littlestone)
Jan Farquharson: The Search for Ancestors... (Littlestone)
Jeremy Hooker: The Soliloquies... (Littlestone)
Stonework: Mark Edmonds and Rose Ferraby (Littlestone)
Ammon Wrigley: On A Yorkshire Moor (Littlestone)
Lynn Woollacott: Standing Stones (Littlestone)
Charles Valentine Le Grice: To A Fallen Cromlech (Littlestone)
Gillian Clarke: Stone (Littlestone)
Kim Whysall-Hammond: Herepath (Littlestone)
Re: Edward Thomas - Lob (moss)

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