11.4.09

On Whitbarrow


Whitbarrow is a beautiful limestone moorland between the English Lake District National Park and the horseshoe of Morecambe Bay. Beautiful and mysterious. I spent a transformative year living alone there in a small cottage on the edge of the moor, running every day and writing and composing and meditating. I healed a deep wound in myself while there with the help of the spirit of the moor. The mist would come rolling in with immense speed and I particularly loved it at that special time at dusk when the shadows lengthen and a blanket of silence slowly settles. Whitbarrow will always be one of those special places for me. This poem was my way of honouring the moor.



ON WHITBARROW

Soft is the wind on Whitbarrow
this day of blessings and breath.
Here where the sturdy juniper flows
I shall wolf-run to the ancient ash groves
and lay me down old wounds in sacred fire.
And lay me too in the fingers of
that wind-sculpted oak
As after summer’s solstice rise
midge-ridden at Swindale Stones,
I lay, day after day.
And day after day the grass screamed.
And I hid from the eyes of men.
Day after solitary day running
the shattered limestone ways,
in the style of a shaman.

Here by the fallen larch I sensed
the tundra of that One vast Soul.
Communed with spectres of fears,
laid about like mist.
Talked long and hard with that Other Self;
that other half of what I might yet be.
Here, upon this blessed palimpsest
did I write myself anew.

Here, among the white bones,
beneath the hymns of skylarks, did I
scatter seed, take up staff, and walk again.

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