Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Henge, Barrow And Midsummer Hill

This poem was written in 1991 to be read aloud to the Manchester Goddess Group.  I was going to post it yesterday as an addendum to the piece on Silbury Hill and then got cold feet. Its picture of prehistoric religion is based on the theories of Terence Meaden and Michael Dames- which never had any academic credence- and I find I don't agree with it anymore. It's an odd position to find oneself in apropos one's own work- to still like it, but not to agree with it. But  I've been thinking things over: a poem is not an academic paper and so- with the caveat that you're not to believe a word of it- I give you

                                    HENGE, BARROW AND MIDSUMMER HILL


                                    Henge, barrow and midsummer hill

                                    Are stations in the sacred landscape.

                                    Here the timeless Goddess enters

                                    The times of her tribes.  It was lifetimes back

                                    And what it meant we have almost forgotten,

                                    Almost forgotten.


                                                                         We killed a child

                                    With great honour and buried her body

                                    Curled like a snail at the heart of the henge

                                    Where earth spirits might rise through her grave,

                                    Follow the curve of the bent bones

                                    And spiral out among villagers dancing

                                    The sunwheel dance that is danced in spring.

                                    A captive ghost, in my meditation,

                                    She takes my hand, but I cannot lead her

                                    Beyond the ring where the magic fixed her.

                                    She will be four years old forever,

                                    And crowned with flowers.


                                                                         But all the rest of us

                                    Have to be laid in tribal earth

                                    To be remade by the winter Goddess

                                    Before we come back to the world again.

                                    She is the sow that eats her farrow,

                                    Old bones cracking within the barrow,

                                    But to those whom she fails to frighten

                                    A giver of gifts.


                                                              No corpses lie

                                    On midsummer hill, but of all the stations

                                    This is the saddest.  The sun on high

                                    Burns, burns as midsummer’s Queen

                                    Hands over her whitening world to death-

                                    The fields by severance and the woods

                                    By slow decay.  With her hair combed out

                                    In its red gold sheaves she is perfect strength

                                    And perfect beauty about to fade

                                    As from this moment summer does-

                                    And the child will leave its mother and

                                    The long procession wind down the hill.

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