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.