Friday 11 November 2016

Wheel of the Year, Wheel of the Land.

For Wroth Silver 2016 by Barry Patterson

So here we stand in the dim lit, cold damp dawning
A group of people huddled by a stone
Reeling in the year’s ancestral mornings
When early traffic begins its rush of day
Beyond the hedge that once just wasn’t there
When Knightlow Cross watched over the way
From its hilltop across the land to Rugby
Coventry & beyond.

Our ceremony is a celebration of the time
This the hour, this the day that it must be done
As it has been been for a thousand years or more
So many turnings of the silver sun
That wroth must be paid on the Eve of Martinmas
By good folk of the lands here all about
But let us also celebrate the ancient place
Where we gather.

A point of vantage, judgment, preaching & burial
From which the crow can fly
The mind’s eye given freedom mile over mile
To review the land of Albion below;
Our sea wave girdled island
The shore dressed by cliffs, high & low
Shingle, sand, mud & salty marsh
Where Winter’s bird flocks gather.

North we fly! Over Coombe & Hinckley
Coalville & the Trent; Steely Sheffield & Wetherby
To the tumbled rocky cliffs of my youth
Between Shields & Sunderland
Where we meet the Great North Sea;
Or South over Princethorpe, Southam,
Wantage & the chalk hills of the Hampshire Downs
To Southampton, the Solent & the Isle of Wight.

Our flight can take us West over Lickey Hills
Stourport, Ludlow & the Cambrian Mountains
To Cardigan Bay & the Irish Sea;
& East! Past Rugby, Butterfield’s Town,
Aerials, the M1, the Grand Union Canal,
Over low flat lands to follow the Ouse
From Huntingdon, thence to a place called Sizewell
Which you may have heard of(!)

If we stand for just a moment’s contemplation
All those places seem to draw nearby
Over Winter’s fields as England begins to awaken
& if we can sense their presence on this day
As we attend our ancient rite
We can know that in some mystical way
We gather for the good of all; that all the land
Revolves about this centre once a year.


Wroth Silver is an ancient ceremony for which I have the honour of being poet laureate. It takes place before dawn at the site of Knightlow Cross by the A45 in Warwickshire.

This year I sought permission to visit the Knightlow Cross field in Summer, in day time. (Actually you don't need to; a public footpath runs nearby & walkers often visit the stone  which now has a little plaque explaining its significance.)

I went in July & it turned out to be the hottest day of the year! It was very interesting to see the site in daylight & enjoy the various views it affords across the land. This inspired me to make the focus of my 3rd Wroth Silver poem the place itself & its location in the landscape. The crow-flight journeys were worked out by drawing lines N, S, E & W across the country from that point. This is always an interesting exercise in itself anyway. I sat on the stone & played my small pipes.

My previous Wroth Silver poems & some explanation of the ceremony may be found as blog entries for November 2014 & 2015:

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Green Sulphur

There’s a lion on the lawn again, shouting about desire
Impossibility, certainty & need
Pacing back & forth between the flower beds of belief
Raising its head towards the immensity of the morning
With the bravado & inscrutability of fearlessness
As if she could provoke the sun to fold it’s wings & come down & have it out
One final time with the rogues holding up their candles,
Nightlights, waved lighters,  glowsticks, matches & phone apps
All useless to see by but guaranteed to get you seen.

Just because you think something doesn’t make it true
& just because you feel something doesn’t make it real
The heart is not a prison, nor the mind a university
The body is not a machine, the brain is not a computer;
The lion doesn’t care  about any kind of symbolism
The small self & its propaganda are just irrelevant
& the wild wheel of your needs & fears is just a tinny gimbal
Upon & over which the galaxy reflects her voice.

The intensity of your need reflects the immensity of your world
The lion, she just runs, jumps, walks, breathes, shouts.
Why not wake up? Wake up from that smelly little dream
About God being a parent, a king, a judge, a shepherd or a murderer
Let loose some outrageous music of the kind that
The analytical mind just can’t take, that the old always hate
That the police would arrest you for if they could hear it
But they haven’t been told that it exists yet.

Listen you, there’s a lion on the lawn
& she’s after you before you can think & she’s quick
She’s the energy of green sulphur,
Not a fuse or a fume, nor firework on a stick
But the real thing & she told me that she wants to make love to you
Right there on the grass amidst a million dreaming souls
Singing the national anthem of the Otherworld:
She told me that you ran away from the songs of life
But left a convenient glass slipper behind in the garden.

Following Ginsberg's advice to start where you left off; readers of Buddha of the Carboniferous may recognise the lion, as might the inhabitants of Earl Shilton, Leicestershire.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Freed From Distance

My new collection of poetry, spanning ten years of writing, performance & life experience.

Click on the page link for more information!

Monday 9 May 2016

We all were Young

For my sister Kay, on her birthday.

We all were young & it was a shining time
Of freedom & adventures we sought
The meaning of the meaning in everything, everything
Holding hands we entered the playground of the gods.

Moon through window glass
Shell pale in the morning sky
Some time in the Spring

Mounded clouds piled high were our relatives
In that corner of the field where I sang to myself
Above that small room where I sang to you;
Memories of skies, the same but different
Cloud my vision now as I walk down my street.

We are little birds
Sparrows in a sycamore
Me & my sister

We all were young yet felt such nostalgia
For what? For when? & how could we feel that?
I favoured the many-worlds hypothesis
Even then, age seven, all those lifetimes were plain to see
Spread out more like a map than a river-arrow's flight & I knew that I was dreaming

Where do stones come from?”
I went to ask me Mam
Underground,” she said

Dear Kay I'm holding your hand in a field by a stile in a wall
By a tree in a Summer of birds & flowers & sea
Every stone looks up at us with envy
For we can walk & they are stuck with geology.

It rained all day long
Nose against the window pane
Frogs in the garden

We are not aliens, our bodies are made of bread
Bread of the fields, meat of the blood of our kin
Teeth & gut & taste; hunger & fullness are stanzas & verses
In some secret song of days coming & going &
Land & sky were a state of being rather than a spatial structure.

Dipping ginger snaps
Into cups of morning tea
At Mrs. Turnbull's

I was a loner, less so than you & more afraid
I hardly knew you, nor you me we kept our secrets
I cried all the way home because I couldn't understand human cruelty
I lacked nothing but still I yearned for I didn't know what;
Something invisible, I know that you did too
& that now you have seen it, but I am fortunate;
I didn't have to die.

The three legged tank
Where Grandma boiled laundry
The smell of fruit pies

& we could see & sing & hear the song that left our throats
To fly to Heaven & we walked & ran & jumped up & down
& danced about all over the place being ourselves
Because we belonged to no-one
& the universe had many eyes & a kind face & tret us gently.

The crisp, bright pages
Of a yet unopened book
A secret moment

You jumped from the roundabout
Straight into Mam's arms.
I was afraid of banana slides
& dreamed about bridges.
The Fairy Folk showed me that
Every boundary is a place & every place is a boundary;
There is a mountain in the middle with three peaks
& a wind, a wind, a wind that carries our voices
Further than we can imagine.