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,
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.