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Re: Megalithic Poems
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These two poems might be a bit off topic. Jet jewellery has been found in many bronze age burial excavations, and I carve reproductions using jet. The romans found a thriving jet carving industry here when they came. Its easier to carve than wood, though brittle and liable to break if you do any delicate carving. Pliny and Bede describe its early uses, but I prefer the following two poets, who have summed up very differently:-

This first poem, written by Marbode, the Bishop of Rennes, captures the received opinion of medieval times, which harks back to Pliny and Bede:-


Lycia her jet in medicine commends;
But chiefest, that which distant Britain sends;
Black light and polished, to itself it draws
If warmed by friction near adjacent straws.
Though quenched by oil, its smouldering embers raise
Sprinkled by water, a still fiercer blaze;
It cures the dropsy, shaky teeth are fixed
Washed with the powder'd stone in water mixed.
The female womb its piercing fumes relieve,
Nor epilepsy can this test deceive;
From its deep hole it lures the viper fell,
And chases away the powers of hell;
It heals the swelling plagues that gnaw the heart,
And baffles spells and magic's noxious art.
This by the wise and surest test is styled
Of virgin purity by lust defiled.
Three days in water steeped, the draught bestows
Ease to the pregnant womb in travail's throes.'


THOU art not so black as my heart,
Nor half so brittle as her heart, thou art ;
What would'st thou say ? shall both our properties by thee be spoke,
—Nothing more endless, nothing sooner broke?

Marriage rings are not of this stuff ;
Oh, why should ought less precious, or less tough
Figure our loves ? except in thy name thou have bid it say,
"—I'm cheap, and nought but fashion ; fling me away."

Yet stay with me since thou art come,
Circle this finger's top, which didst her thumb ;
Be justly proud, and gladly safe, that thou dost dwell with me ;
She that, O ! broke her faith, would soon break thee.

Donne, John. 1896

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Posted by Branwen
25th October 2009ce

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Megalithic Poems (Littlestone)

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Marbode: Jet (Littlestone)

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