ncient glades dappled spirit bound,
Valley clasped amid broad back and rugged beam,
Gnarled way where twig and leaf are found,
Lost where old banks and earthen workings dream.
Arched oaken caverns cold and shadowed still,
Mirrored murmurs break amid moss rounded stone,
Surge and dance the steps to thrill,
Yellowed men unfurled on winnowed throne.
Droplets drift through in glistening tears,
A stone grieved of gargoyle nature tumbled here,
Saffron caps dress musted bark amid its silent leers,
Green faced, alone from ages past – its hollowed eyes bleed fear.
Rocking bows breath honeyed, golden light,
The meadow dew drags empty scamperings near,
An awkward gait is borne as if to tread by night,
Cleaved childer, lost of angles, where sleeping grasses rear.
Rugged face o’er looks the vantaged fall,
A roof-top spire amid green crested waves,
The blackened hearth atop the barrow knoll,
Crow fletched shafts denied to woodland staves.
For this place an army bears a silent care:
Hallowed dreams of untamed wilderness,
Thus crafts a branch from wintered lair,
A bud so bold, yet seen as less.
Mossy’d stone in shady glade,
Ivy o’er runs the tumbled tower,
Spring brings forth spears and sharpened blade,
Of emerald armies aflame with flower.
O’erhead where once fine splendor arched,
Amongst this ruin of rock and hollow,
Where wind and rain have marched,
The siege is sure to follow.
Mistletoe breathes to the oak it embraces,
Mother Nature awakens here,
Her lips bear growth of the wildwood places,
Listen. In faer groves her dread words ring clear:
“Baron rock, stone stalwart king?
Crafter’s caste, false rule proclaimed!
A thousand grasping, twisted fingers bring,
Thy destined stones a’neath my rule, untamed.”
“O’ vain are yea of man’s crafting,
Think thou to stem the tide?
Through fractures everlasting,
My courtesans shall ride.”
“So cast down thy gauntlet knave,
Your challenge shall be heeded,
Trees shall weep on your grassy grave,
And your lands, they shall be seeded.”
The fragile stone unheeds her darkened splendour,
Mocks her rowan laugh and holly temperament,
It quotes founds of living stone, her chances slender,
“Retreat! Lest false words end in thy betterment!”
Autumn conspires against defender,
Safe beneath the earth will hide,
A seed, a knight of splendour,
In honour will he ride.
Spurs bite deep in voracious charge,
Brought forth from Autumn’s legions,
Standards planted firm at large,
Shall claim the barren regions.
Red runs the sunset iron of this age,
A perch to mistress raven’s call,
Gutting folly’s stoney cage,
Death’s downy touch on inner wall.
Wounds wear deep ‘aneath the keeping spans,
Gap toothed stories lean to sliding ruin,
Lofty heights bear down to weathered plans,
Of buckled roots, grown deep, as forest eaves drew in.
The roof – the heavens – it bears no earthly spoil,
The humbled hearth, an empty place, framed high upon the wall,
One step atop another throw off their mortal coil,
Lost, unlimbered, rain-washed in shattered fall.
Where found the well no pleasing wish,
Girded iron and carven hoard forced in,
Choked on the bones of the keep, now brackish,
The keeper of life, dead waters – bored of the depths it sank in sin.
A burnished door, still bolted, bars a breach,
The last to rot and wither,
Held in the way of the dark, cold reach,
Domed underways, where black earth reeks of a musty shiver.
Saplings breach this cavernous hold,
Where sickly fingers fear to pry,
Dungeons fool last autumn’s fold,
Wracked they twist then lightless die.
The forest digs in yet the battle still lingers,
Demoralised walls grow green with mounds of the dead,
Judged by a spike hanging chains of gnarled fingers,
Lodged on the wall, the stonemason’s head.
Outhouse and byre snare stones in the night,
Carrion crows nourished o’er dragon sloughed ember,
Green acres shroud trails from awakening light,
Soft royal shades bloom till there’s naught to remember.
A tree of old England bears apples most splendid,
Bent where it took to the mortuary wall,
The sprawls of an orchard that burgeoned and hid,
The door to the chapel cut down from the hall.
Cold is the tapestry woven from ivy,
Watch lest it shrouds or entangled shall be,
The ruins and escapements where jackdaw’s bear plea,
For twigs to nest so that young they shall see.
Once were people as spirits must pass,
Bright coloured shifts draped in tatters of old,
Wintered fires burn deep for the silent in mass,
Good cheer as must be for those empty and cold.
This is the home of the harlequin magpie,
A coven in colours as night turns to day,
Silver borne up in a beak with sharp eye,
A gleeman to bards, friend of the fey.
He holds the crown that thralls this land,
Which ruler could these others choose?
Where all bear arms and lawful stand,
And none amongst them loose.
Pass on? shall yea head back?
Given council of ancient history,
An orb of ages past thou shall not lack,
A glimpse of nature’s fate for thee.