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!
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.