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Tony Grist

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Goddess River [Sep. 7th, 2005|10:34 am]
Tony Grist


A man wrapped in a woollen cloak,
Ringing a bell- I conjured him up
One afternoon on L.S.D.
Out of the chiming of a brook
And memories of The Black Arrow.
Probably the man's a leper,
Certainly he's wise and old-
The hermit of the Tarot pack
Or Bosch's quiet St Antony-
A lover of the wilderness.
Now, when I walk by any stream
He's with me. He knows Medlock well-
Dear Goddess river- from her birth
In swampy fields at Bishops' Park
Down to her losing of herself
In Manchester below the bluff
The Romans called Mamucium-
Mammary Hill. I've heard his bell
In rocky cloughs and beech tree rides
And by the banks of stinking garlic
Where the arch of an aqueduct-
Raw enough to be Roman work-
Spans the river bed. A skein
Of water from an overflow
Mizzles down from above the keystone
Fifty foot and hits the stream
As though a giantess were pissing.
That's a place I like to linger,
Sitting on a smooth grey rock,
Watching clumps of foam revolve,
Hearing the bell. No rattle's like
That bell for scaring demons off.


[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-09-07 03:59 am (UTC)
Oh, good: a poem from you! And this one is wonderfully visual.

So you have found a wise old man who hangs around rivers ringing bells. Your orb and sunburst are perfect companions to this lovely parallel universe you've found.

How I envy you those places to explore!

Our "oldest things" are Indian arrowheads left from the Woodland Indians who first settled this region, long before the Cherokee did.

I'd much prefer finding some Roman glass or a nice aquaduct.

(I have heard that archeologists digging in the area of the ancient Babylonians have found evidence--this is from twenty years ago or so--of arches being built there, predating the Romans! I heard a presentation about this excavation at the Laboratory.)

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-09-07 04:36 am (UTC)
I hesitated about posting the poem- because it's so old. I'm glad you like it.

The bridge carried one of the canals that made the industrial revolution possible. Cotton was imported from the Southern States into Liverpool and Salford docks, taken up into the hills by canal boat to be processed and then floated back to the ports to be exported world-wide.

There's a lot of industrial archaeology along the Medlock valley. 18th and 19th century ruins as romantic and impressive as anything the Romans left behind.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-09-07 04:44 am (UTC)
Maybe this weekend, if my nephew Matthew is back from his trip to Mt. St. Helens, he and Kate and I can plan a photography trip to Jonesboro, the oldest town in our state. There's a Salt House there I think you'd enjoy seeing.

Oh, I can probably find it with Google, but I'd rather have my own slant on it--more fun.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-09-07 04:51 am (UTC)
I'll look forward to that.

When I was in Kentucky I visited the abandoned Shaker village at Pleasant Hill. Very pretty.

Mother Ann Lee- the Shaker Prophetess- was a Manchester lass. So many links between here and there!
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-09-07 04:56 am (UTC)
How funny that I have never heard about the abandoned Shaker village.

I'm still enjoying your poem in my head.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-09-07 05:07 am (UTC)
It's run as a heritage site. I remember we were shown round by a nice lady in Shaker costume.

This was over 20 years ago, of course......
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-09-07 05:30 am (UTC)
They have lovely, simple furniture. Their music is very somber, often being in minor keys.

And that is all I know about Shakers.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-09-07 05:49 am (UTC)
"Tis a gift to be simple
Tis a gift to be free,
Tis a gift to come down
Where we ought to be."

They used to dance and sing and "shake" as a way of worshipping God. They practised sexual equality, but also celibacy- which is why, rather sadly, they have died out.

They were a good thing. A Protestant monastic movement.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-09-07 05:54 am (UTC)
Indeed! They were not meant to last...too short-sighted.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-09-07 06:07 am (UTC)
I suspect that- like today's fundamentalists- the Shakers expected the Second Coming "any time now". In those circumstances it seemed like a waste of time and energy to get married and raise children.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-09-07 07:01 am (UTC)
How rueful they must have been, when the last one of them was old, and no one had come to Rapture them up.

The Last Shaker--sounds like a novel.

(But I always think of salt-shakers when I hear about these people...)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-09-07 08:28 am (UTC)
I wonder if there are any of them left.

Last time I checked they had been reduced to two very old ladies.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-09-07 07:04 am (UTC)
Have you ever heard of the mysterious disappearance of Aimee Semple MacPherson, who founded the Foursquare Gospel Church?

"Aimee Semple MacPherson was a popular revival preacher and faith healer who brought her ministry to Los Angeles in 1923. From her church in Echo Park, she broadcast her services across the country - a precursor to the modern televangelists. In 1926, she disappeared while swimming at Venice Beach. Police were baffled, and huge rewards were offered for clues of her whereabouts. Thirty two days later, she came out of the Arizona desert, claiming to have been kidnapped and held hostage for a month before finally managing to escape. There had indeed been a plot to kidnap MacPherson uncovered in 1925, but many elements of her story did not seem to fit. While MacPherson had disappeared from a beach while clad in a swimsuit, she emerged from the desert fully clothed right down to her old-fashioned corset. The LA district attorney had several witnesses who claimed they had seen MacPherson in local hotels with Kenneth Ormiston, a technician for her church's radio broadcasts. MacPherson stuck to her story, and she was acquitted of perjury. Her popularity suffered no decline, although rumors persisted that she had gone to Mexico for an abortion, or to recover from plastic surgery."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-09-07 08:35 am (UTC)
Agatha Christie pulled a very similar stunt. She abandoned her car on a country road and just disappeared. Suicide was suspected.

When she was eventually found- staying in a spa hotel in Yorkshire- she claimed she had suffered from a fit of amnesia.

She never explained herself, but she most probably did it to worry her unfaithful husband.

The name she used to check into the hotel was that of her husband's mistress.
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From: saskia139
2005-09-07 08:11 am (UTC)
But they have lasted! Sabbathday Lake is the last surviving Shaker community; it has over a dozen members, and some of them are male and under the age of sixty. *g* They maintain a museum of Shaker life, have done two recordings of traditional Shaker music with the Boston Camerata, and farm 1800 acres of land with orchards, herbs, trees, and some livestock. Go Shakers!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-09-07 08:40 am (UTC)
Good grief!

But I'm really pleased to hear that there are still some of them left.

I admire the Shakers- lovely gentle people and so creative with it.
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