Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Seahenge- poem copyright Veronica Aldous


The quartered moon, the lid upon its eye is looking
at the seahenge, the submerged sunken ring

its spikes appear, a ruined forest shows its teeth
the sea a cowl upon its rank defiled carnality

where blood mixed bitter with the salty breeze
and upturned roots defy the meaning of a tree

the sigh of tide, the shingles bleak with baltic beads
the agates, ambers, churned to frosted uniformity

to bleed, commingle sand and sea , the pagan bride
when hands were words, the meaning lost, the mudra hides

the bond between, the rotting headland out of reach
the ruined breathy beach where lovers lie and lie again

washed by ebb and flow and in the winter, brackish ice
on bending reeds - the spindrift veils the site of sacrifice

as though a kindness entered here, where only death
spoke to make the seasons come and come again

the pacts and promises to stay and stay as one
there is no one now, except the break, monotonous break

the wracks are stranded, the marrams list and keel
and sanderlings pick at dejected flotsam, razor shells

as restless shoppers pick at shelves and finding nothing new
go home - the curlew calls to wandering babies, go home go home

go home, she cries. No answer. The drab disrobing sea
prostrates itself in supplication before the matting clouds

if mermaids cry, then they cry here. Their saline mouths
gasping in the dreary sunlight, wind picking up their sticky hair

to drift upon the shore, wish you were here, wish you were here
when half an afternoon spread out before the totes meer

the sea henge staking memory to shore, an augury uncovered
its upright bones prop up the lost, the sweet, the drowned

as lovers fallen on hard times renew their vows and handfast
despite the prophecy, go home with faces set, forget the past

the keenly tempered bladed arctic blast, and warm themselves
with white romantic dunes and misremembered waves.


shaman1 said...

Hi! My name is Arthur Bennett from New Zealand. I also wrote a poem called "Seahenge". Here it is for comparison.


For a year we have been unearthing oak,
Unraveling coiled roots from the soil’s grasp.
We have bared the mighty timber limbs
That explored the cold dark places,
The corded arms that reached for the world’s heart.
We have teased and untangled the Gorgon’s hair
Of rootlets intermeshed with fungal mould.
The fresh rain will wash the roots clean
So that we can weave them intricately
Into corn dolly, osier wickerwork plaits.

Where the North Sea wind unpeels the dunes
And etches the land with their abrasive sand;
Where the curlew cries over the shingle shore
And the bittern booms from the rushy fens;
There at the confluence of air, sea and land
Let us build our interdimensional henge.
An unbroken ring of oak trunks, a palisade
To enclose the sanctuary of the inverted tree,
The gateway is a single-bole, twin-trunked oak,
A tuning fork through which a man might barely pass.

Under this gate they have buried me.
I was fed a meal of summer berries –
Bramble, whortle, elder, damson and crab.
And a mix of autumn grains and nuts –
Barley, rye, oat, acorn, mast and cob.
Four fair maids have washed my hair in dew,
Combed and braided it in periwinkle shells.
They each in turn made gentle love to me,
Gave me to drink hemlock, mead and agaric
Before they took the leather cord and strangled me.

When the wild North Sea scoured the coast
And the dunes of centuries were washed away,
Standing in silt at the tide’s furthest reach,
A curious circle of ancient stumps was found.
At the epicentre, at the very cusp and hub,
A strange replanted oak tree stood,
Its head in the earth, its roots in the air
So that it might draw downwards the radiant dawn,
The cries of plovers, curlews and terns,
And the laughter of lovers to feed the dead.

Check out my other poems at:

Veronica Aldous said...

thank you for your comments and poem. Which seahenge was your reference?
This one is at Thornham, Suffolk.
I was interested in the way you described the sacrifice, reminding me of the bog people and of course Seamus Heaney.
In my poem the sacrifice is veiled and only hinted at, as we do not really know what the henges were used for which only adds to the feeling of distance and disconnection.
In my case, the potency lies in the henge's symbolism in my life and I write of the lovers and their ignorance of, and avoidance of, the most blatant of symbols, the most obvious of messages. Courtship is a kind of ritual and love itself a transaction. If mistruths and half-truths and mistakes are interwoven innocently into a celtic knotwork then we have a kind of religion, which is the nature of our loves and obsessions.
What I thought was a petrified forest was seahenge, a violent place lost out at sea.
What I thought was going to last forever and was sanctified was the mere passing of a sweet dream into lies and cruelty . Finally it is as sand and the tide will leave no trace when I walk along the shoreline. I see the henge now, for what it is and it is better to know.

Such is impermanence.