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Garden and Sea at Dunwich (poem)

Posted on April 9, 2010 at 11:30 PM

Eight churches made solemn procession

into the sea at Dunwich,

each claimed in a bridal hour

by storm, by wind, by wave,

betrayed by their own foundations.

Only the amber roses

in the monastery garden

find shelter in the cracked stone

of what remains as reliquary.

No monk’s hand guides them now;

they go their own way,

gifting the pinnacles of air

above cleft earth and sea

with attar of ancient text

and fragments of vagrant air.

There is something to be said

for the texture of erosion,

for the dissolution of earthy things

in sea that, having taken,

returns in roiling tide

as an aquamarine resurrection.

So fisherman toil their nets,

trawling in with pilchard and cod

shards of rose window bearing

bright offerings of multifoil grace,

but in a pattern severed

from the one I thought I knew.

Or rising once more from the surf,

on brief shore there may spill

splinters of the seraph’s sword of flame

guarding the firstborn garden.

I hesitate to take them in my hand

for they have fallen in this place

like open petals of crystal stigmata.

Ambiguous pieces with angelic eyes

that harbour an amethyst shadow

of human compassion,

here are mated with mute mouth

that has no voice to speak

the human accents of my name.

by Unknown


Categories: WRITING, Poetry

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1 Comment

Reply BanksiaMarginata
3:54 PM on June 25, 2015 
What a beautiful poem... I remember Dunwich from my Suffolk childhood and the story of the lost church/es and village... and the delightfully ghostly story that sometimes, on stormy nights, you could hear the church bell tolling.
Those pale amber roses must be the ones that grew wild all over the heathland between the cliffs and wherever it was we parked the car. There's a type of R spinosissima called the Dunwich Rose, but it may not be the same as those original ones. Does anyone know if they still grow there?