Role call

 

Call it a wood,

And nothing more, and you will not be wrong,
But telling only half the truth. This is
My own cathedral, with more glory caught
In every bluebell, tender hornbeam bud
And papery anemone than vast
Vaults of Caen stone and acres of stained glass.
And also it’s my study: living trees
Tell stories that the dead wood of my desk
Cannot recall. And it’s my schoolroom, too:
Repository of wisdom of the earth
And every lesson worth the learning. Here
Are life and death writ large, the wheel’s slow spin.
And this is my apothecary: I find
In its rich scents, soft light and shaded paths
The sovereign remedies for all my pains
In heart and mind. And it’s my sanctuary:
The fears that stalk my days and nights don’t dare
Pursue me when I claim protection here.
And this is my great stronghold: bastion
Against the madness, ugliness and noise
That lie beyond its green, enfolding walls –

Call that the world.

 

This is a blank-verse reworking of a piece I wrote a year or so ago. I’ve had a bit of a week of it work-wise, so writing some iambic pentameter between phonecalls this morning has been very soothing: form and subject matter coming together, I guess. I’m afraid I wasn’t up to rhyming it as well, though! N.

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16 thoughts on “Role call

  1. Hi Nick,
    you built a cathedral of a poem here, such a monument! I love it, the way it reads, everything the woods mean to you.
    🙂
    This has been a good morning!

    xx
    Ina

    • “And it’s my sanctuary:
      The fears that stalk my days and nights don’t dare
      Pursue me when I claim protection here.”

      This made me go out for a walk to the top of the dune again for finding just that, 🙂 It is lovely weather now btw!

      • That’s lovely to hear Ina – made me think of the dunes in Brittany (only about three-and-a-half months to wait now!!) which are another favourite sanctuary of mine. And the weather is beautiful here too. N.x

  2. Nick, I love this in blank verse. You might have guessed that. You really are, at heart, a nature poet, finding cathedrals in woods and interest in the interaction of a red kite and a child’s kite. By the way, I was on twilark’s blog yesterday, and she thrilled me by posting a great photograph of a red kite. I was so excited I called to Ethel since, of course, neither of us had ever seen one except in your poem.
    As a nature poem linked to the earth your poems usually link back to the past when the world’s cacophony was less and human souls felt the way roots network into the ground and bring sustenance to trees that leaf out high in the air to greet the morning sun.
    There is so much beauty in this poem:
    …This is
    My own cathedral, with more glory caught
    In every bluebell, tender hornbeam bud
    And papery anemone than vast
    Vaults of Caen stone and acres of stained glass.
    Amen to that.

    • Thanks, Tom, as always, for your comment – and for directing me to Twilark; an excellent blog. Now you’ve seen a red kite, you can understand how much fun it was to see one sharing the same square of sky with my daughter’s kite; it appeared genuinely curious for a while, then seemed to grow bored of something that was obviously neither a potential threat nor a potential meal, and swung disdainfully downwind and away. I’ve seen as many as 40 red kites at one time over that field; it’s an awesome sight, like something from a Hitchcock movie.

      I’m gradually coming back round to blank verse, and rather enjoying it, too. Glad you approve. N.

  3. I read your more recent poem first, and now here is the wood as a cathedral only more so.and that feeling of inner peace and strength that is to be found there. This is a beautiful poem. and a most interesting blog.
    Thank you Nick for visiting my blog. I really appreciate your comments

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