Reply To: Poetry, sharing and reading

James Fox

    Hi, I’m James. I was inspired to write a poem after a recent walk on Dartmoor where I live. Any remarks would be appreciated!

    At Merrivale

    Once a year, give or take, you visit us
    Our friendship kindled once again.
    And oft we choose to walk and talk
    Upon the sacred land that’s ours.
    Rain and mist and surface water
    Greet the trip we make today
    As rising up the hill we stroll
    Antiquities and tors unfold.
    The Long Ash Brook is running high
    Stepping stones today submerged:
    We detour up to where the stream
    Is split in muddy rivulets
    Through which we slosh and slide;
    Then, on firmer ground, we climb.
    Arriving at the railway line
    Though dismantled long before our time
    We follow its course around the hill
    Through the cutting where the driver parked the train
    In the blizzard of eighteen ninety-one
    That he and all the passengers
    Might not freeze to death:
    Two days it was before their rescue.
    Along the old Swell Tor siding
    We pass the dozen granite corbels
    Destined once for London Bridge
    Unmoved an inch since the day they were dumped
    At the start of the previous century.
    We shelter from the breezy rain
    Within the towering quarry walls
    In the space vacated by
    The rock that spans the Thames today.
    As cake and coffee are consumed
    I say how when I was a boy
    A friend and I would cycle here
    And climb up that near-sheer cliff
    And stepping along a narrow ledge
    Would haul ourselves upon the top:
    Fifty years ago that was
    Yet absolutely nothing has changed.
    Later we try to find the site
    Where King Tor Halt existed once
    Where in that film of fifty-four
    A sailor disembarked the train
    And on the way to visit a farm
    Has his lunch by a row of stones
    Where we are now, but he is not.
    But my attention is arrested
    By the monumental sight
    Of these stones so organised
    In two straight lines upon the grass
    That out the light grey wall of fog
    Emerge as if from out the past
    Ending but a short way hence
    In rock set perpendicular:
    Ancient presence present now
    Granitic being before us, hail!
    To the left and to the right
    Standing pools of liquid lead
    Re-emanate the grey sky light:
    Light eternal of shrouded star
    And life eternal suffusing all.