It's the Brigid Poetry Festival time again. Find out more about it and join in yourself by clicking here!
This year my contribution is this poem written by Jehanne Mehta , which I discovered on a Bristol Transition Group website. Although I've never visited Minchinhampton Common, the poem speaks for my feelings about the land in many places I have been.
Having been involved recently with the protests in the Combe Valley, land ownership has been at the forefront of my mind. Who owns it, sells it, buys it (by compulsory purchase if they choose) and all of these so often completely detatched from those who care for it and inhabit it. Whether defined as a Common or as privately owned, I feel in a world where nature is receding so rapidly and great violence is being done to the land and what springs from the land, we have to question more and more the responsibilities of wild land ownership and even question whether anyone can truly claim ownership as opposed to environmental stewardship. I dedicate this offering to Brigid and to the fallen oaks of Combe Haven, who I know belonged only to themselves.
On Minchinhampton Common
I am walking,
walking barefoot on the common,
on this warm green ground,
ground that belongs only to itself,
to the four wise winds,
to the treasures it conceals under its
ancient crinkled gown, cow trodden,
unfurling it all along the changing
seasons of the sun,
in subtlest colours of gold, violet
purple and dark blue,
finely stitched and embroidered with
bramble, briar and hawthorn
and spangled with the dew.
This is common ground,
never dug, since
long forgotton folk
built round houses,
buried their dead,
threw up bulwarks against
and watched the stars,
glimpsed through forest
ages since unseen,
dipping and wheeling
in their round dance
horizon to horizon.
Here I walk on Albion’s ground,
her secret spirit still awake,
in spite of the fog that fetters feeling
and tangles thinking into knots we do not
her secret spirit will awake,
still calling through our feet;
and do we hear, do we hear
the quiet insistent voice of the ground,
the common ground that belongs only
~ Jehanne Mehta, 2011