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Sunday, 21 June 2009

Summer Solstice : Stonehenge





Behind the lightness of the dance and song,
beneath its glad frivolity there run
the deeper voices of the standing stones,
more ancient than the ancient ones we've come
to celebrate. A foreign tongue, the words
unknown, their genius still moves us, far
beyond the language that they use. The tone
is one of gravitas. Where now the fun?

These sentinels of deep thought shake our age,
reprove it for its lack of mental care.
This field was theirs four thousand years before -
with them still moulded in their mountainside.

The Druids came and did their thing, as we
do ours. We are the interlopers now,
not worshippers, but weighers, reckoners
and calculators, adders-up supreme.

What should we calculate in these old fields?
Can we survive? And: We who love the sun
and fear it too, in ways they never knew,
would we, could we but find their ancient words,
be wise as they? Light-heartedly, our love
affair with what they knew - with what we think
they knew - goes on. Its what we cannot grasp
of them that grasps us by the balls. (Strange, how
women find instinctive understanding.)

47 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

Beautiful piece, Dave.

Madame DeFarge said...

I liked this one (especially the last line). I'd completely forgotten that it was the summer solstice until I read this.

Dave King said...

To all
I am, alas, going to have to curtail my browsing and replying activities somewhat for the next day or two(I am already behind), but hope to start catching up Tuesday or Wednesday. In the meanwhile I have posted this first draft to tide me over.

Leatherdykeuk
Thanks for that.

Madame DeFarge
I, too, had overlooked the significance of the date until I saw a report of the festivities at Stonehenge on the news. Hence the quick draft. (Quick for me, anyway!)

Jim Murdoch said...

It is noteworthy how our attitude towards the sun has changed. As a child the sun illuminated my life. When it was out I came to life. Now all we can think of in skin cancer. I rarely go outside without a hat. The life giver can also take back it seems.

Barry said...

Love it or fear it we are still all in awe of the sun.

As we should be.

If this is a rough first draft, I can't wait for the final product Dave.

Dave King said...

Jim
I agree, it's been a complete turn around, though there was a doctor speaking the other day on behalf of some government department or other saying that we should get out in the sun more. I was thinking of that aspect, but also global warming. The sun's still got to be primarily the life giver. Another example of how you can have too much of a good thing?

Barry
Exactly right.

I'm not sure you'll see too much difference. There are a couple or so things I'd like to change - if I can work out how!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Fear the sun in ways they could not guess. I like that Dave - I had never thought of Global Warming and the summer solstice in the same breath - very impressive. Hope you soon catch up.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi David,
Interesting poem and site! You've given me something to think about this solstice!

Mary Paquet said...

Dave, stunning photo and the poetry is beautifully done. I'm so happy that I've found your blog.

Adrian LaRoque said...

The power of the myth, the most powerful thing driving humanity.
Great post Dave!

Helen said...

Though I've taken a bit of a blog hiatus, I can't resist yours. What a wonderful poem .... one of my favorites!

readingsully2 said...

I am so excite, Dave. I can read it. LOL

Your photo is indeed stunning....and I loved your poem.

When I visited stonehenge, I was surprised that the stones were not much larger. I don't know what I had in my mind. But, they are certainly big enough to wonder at the Druids ability to move them there. It is a fascinating place.

Thanks for the poetry. I have been posting more too. :)

Helen Ginger said...

One thing that intrigues us about things from the past is that we don't know what they mean or what they were used for. I wonder if people will wonder that about us some day. I have not seen stonehenge, but would love to. I have seen some Native American circles and they are very interesting, too.

Helen
Straight From Hel

soulbrush said...

what a beautiful photograph and piece of writing. thanks for popping in to see me and leaving such warm comments my firend.

Tabor said...

Your posts always force me to slow down and think. I cannot skim or even read them. I especially liked the contrast that the third verse brought forth.

Friko said...

Thanks to Tabor for helping me to find you.
Thanks to you for visiting me so promptly and leaving an appreciative comment.
This poem expresses what I cannot say, can only feel and resent impotently. "reckoners, calculators, adders-up supreme"
Thank you; you will become one of my favourite places.

John Hayes said...

Well it's darned good as a first draft. You really have a good ear for pentameter lines-- quite a mix between a more "literary" & a conversational tone here, which can be hard to achieve, & most certainly goes with the subject matter. I know the feeling of being behind!

Jeanne said...

Although it feels a cliche to admit it, seeing Stonehenge was probably my favorite part of my trip to England back in 1995.

BTW -- we have balls, too -- ours are just modestly neatly tucked away, handy to our Fallopian tubes.

Bee said...

"Who fear the sun in ways they could not guess . . ."

Yes, ours is an age of anxiety, isn't it? I feel slightly melancholy when it is time for the longest days to start going in the other direction again.

I have been to Stonehenge a few times, and also just driven past it, and I always find it so moving. I marvel at the energy/determination/strength it took to move and mount those great stones.

ELAINE ERIG said...

Exelente poem, reminded me of Blake,...Thy summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away...maibe because is very visual to me.

Poetikat said...

I could imagine someone standing beneath the standing stones and reading your poem aloud. An Olivier, or Gielgud (or yourself, although I haven't heard your voice). It needs to be read at the site.

I was at Stonehenge in the early 90s. I should like to have had your poem in hand at the time.

Kat

Janette Kearns Wilson said...

Wish I had had this when doing my work on paintings of Stonehenge.
Wish I had been there when I lived in England.

Ronda Laveen said...

Intriguing musings about Solstice. Look forward to the finished piece. Powerful, this is. Love and light on this Solstice. Namaste.

Mairi said...

Nice use of half rhyme eye rhyme almost but not quite rhyme here, sometimes just enough to tickle the ear with recognition. The 'o' and 'u' sounds in the first stanza especially - song, run, stones, come, tongue, words, known, moves, tone, fun. Maybe part of what John calls the mix between the more literary and conversational tone. I'm not sure how he figured that out though, without my instinctive understanding.

James Oh said...

Stunning photo, lovely beautiful poetry and wise author is perfectly match. I'm more than happy to read your posts, Dave King.

A Cuban In London said...

This poem is so good that I cannot even begin to describe my feelings. I am currently nursing a cold (strange word construction that one, I am not cuddling my catarrh, in fact I want it as far away from my daughter and me as possible) but your words, read after having come across an article in today's The Guardian about pagan traditions making a comeback in the UK, are a much needed balm for both my physical and mental health. You're right, what did we learn from those ancient people? To fear the sun? That's no development, that's backwardness. Your rhyme was beautiful and precise, the rhythm, ahh, the rhythm, I've read your poem now four times because of that lovely cadence, each word weighing precisely what it should, sometimes nought. Many thanks, dave, for throwing a beam of that solstice into my soul today.

Greetings from London.

Derrick said...

Hi Dave,

So, you just dashed this off, eh?! Great poem, as usual. Although the stones are magnificent I can't help but think of the pyramids already being thousands of years old when Stonehenge went up. The ancients could certainly teach us many things.

Hope to see you back soon.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Lovely poem and pic! I posted this morning about a special event at my local Stonehenge.

Much as I enjoyed the ideas your piece conjures, I have to confess that for me, Stonehenge will be forever linked to
this interpretation.

Dick said...

I like the demotic touches here that keep the poem grounded so that Stonehenge then is linked to Stonehenge now.

Caio Fernandes said...

hi ! thank for have visited my blog .
and stonehenge , i always stop to hear any thing about this .and when i went there , i got speechless.

Jaky astik said...

Wonderful poem date.I love reading 'we cannot grasp of them that grasp us by the balls'. intuitive.fun.

Dave King said...

The Weaver of Grass
Many thanks. The big catch-up begins here - I hope!

Peggy
Welcome to the blog and very many thanks for the contribution.

Mary
Welcome. Very happy to have you aboard. Hope ypou continue to enjoy.

Adrian
The most powerful, yes, but indanger of becoming over-looked, I fear. Thanks.

Helen
Hi and welcome. Please try hard not to resist mine! Thanks for the feedback.

readingsully2
I had the same feeling when I first saw the stines. I wonder if that's common. Thanks.

Helen
Yes, good point - and would we still feel the same if we did know what the stones were for. How much is it the mystery that intrigues?

Emma Stein said...

Yeah I agree! What a wonderful piece, we who love the sun. :)

Dave King said...

Soulbrush
Thanks for the kind comments.

Tabor
Many thanks for an interesting comment. Very helpful

Friko
Welcome again amd many thanks for such a gracious comment.

John
Yes, it's a genuine first draft. I wrote most of it on the morning paper over breakfast and typed it in pretty much as was - the trouble is, I am beginning to suspect that it's going to remain a first draft poem. Thanks for the comments. Most helpful.

Jeanne
No cliche. There is something about the site that goes beyond cliche, I think.
Yes, you have balls - you just can't be grasped by them! - Can you?

Bee
I too often drive past Stonehenge and know the feelings you alllude to - though it has lost some of its old magic for me, since it was barricaded and turned into a museum exhibit. I'm not against that, something had to be done, but it's a shame.

Elaine
Many thanks for that. Encouraging.

Poetikat
Lovely thought - until you got to me! You wouldn't want to hear that! Thanks for thatthought, though.

Janette
Your paintings of Stonehenge sounds very interesting.

Ronda
Love and light - I like the association. Thanks. But as I wrote to John. I am beginning to feel that it might stay as it is. A Peter Pan of poetry.

Mairi
I very much appeciate your instinctive understanding, and yes, your just enough to tickle the ear with recognition hits the spot I am increasingly trying to aim for these days. Thanks for a useful feedback.

James Oh
Welcome to my blog. Good to have you aboard. Thanks for the very kind remarks.

A Cuban in London
I am quite taken aback by your praise. Very many thanks, I shall think about your comments, as indeed I do about all such. Hope the cold departs in double quick time - and that your daughter does not catch it.

Derrick
I suppose you could say I just dashed it off. At the time I was stuck for my next post and this was meant as a fill-in. But I must admit that when I had typed it out I was quietly pleased with it - isn't that what they say when trying to be modest?

Fantastic Forrest
I know my limits! How can I compete with that! Excellent.

Dick
Many thanks for that Dick. A really useful comment.

Caio
I think I know what you mean, it does get you that way.

Jaky
Welcome to my blog and many thanks for taking time out to comment.

Dave King said...

Emma
Welcome and many thanks for commenting.

Mary Ellen said...

I enjoyed this. I feel that I have an ever-evolving relationship with our great star, and a long-held wish to see Stonehenge! Nice job.

Aniket said...

The stone henge always fascinate me. I have their miniature model up at my work desk too. :)

And you are very right again in pointing out how everything unknown is taken to be magnificent.

Roxana said...

beautiful and melancholic post, Dave, opening up to mystery. i loved everything, the picture included.

Cathy said...

What dud those ancients know, as they knew the air, that we've come to forget? Yes, esp about our star, Sol. In so many Mesoamerican cultures these people paid worship to this incredible orb w/o second though and certainly not to UV-rays that might damage skin etc lol. We modern animals give such a paucity of care to the wonders of astronomical guideposts such as Stonehenge and Woodhenge because we don't feel as those who built them did. We think we're smarter. Ironic.

lakeviewer said...

Interesting take. I like the line, "What should we calculate in these old fields?".

History may not be linear at all, may not be understood, may not be grasped.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Delightful poem for the solstice, Dave. Especially living in the north, I loved how it described how we've disconnected some, but not all from the ancient need.

Dave King said...

Mary Ellen
It's interesting the way our relationship with the sun varies over the course of time - instance Jim's comments. Mine, too, has definitely changed, at first positively, latterly more ambiguously, I feel. You must see Stonehenge if you can.

Aniket
Yes, but I think that at the henge there is a magnificence that is unknown as well as one perceived in the unknown.

Roxana
Thanks a lot for that Roxana.

Cathy
I think they knew things that we do not. I do not think we have recovered all we forgot. I wonder, though, what they would have made of U-V rays had they known about them. My dad was always saying You can't put old heads on young shoulders. We, are the young shoulders, I think.

lakeviewer
Your remarks about history echo a thought I have had for a long time. They talk about learning from history. I'm not sure that you can. And I'm not sure that it repeats itself - very often.

Conda
Thanks Conda. I think that puts it in a nutshell, so to speak. We definitely have disconnected from some ancient learning. But maybe not from all, as some would have it.

Linda said...

Inside those stones exists the ores that cure cancer. Inside those stones exists the crystals that reflect the sunlight away from the earth and the glass to develop solar power. Not to leave out magnetism. I would argue that the stones were as powerful, an equal partner to the sun in the Druid dance and so were the Druids themselves. A trinity. I loved your words,"the deeper voices of the standing stones, more ancient than the ancient ones we've come to celebrate." Brilliant words! I will look for Alice Oswald's books. The poetry section cries to me when I am in a book store too.
I laughed out loud when I read that. Thanks.

Dave King said...

Linda
Yes, your response is interesting and I thank you for it. The Druids, it has been said, have had a subliminal influence on our culture, but but I was actually alluding to the period before the Druids.

Linda said...

Reading your poem once more, I can see that you were alluding to an earlier period. I apologize for the confusion on my part. I am really feeling a connection to the power of minerals and that is more ancient than Druids and the people before them who built Stonehenge. This is an inspiring poem, Dave. Thank you.

Rowan said...

I'm a little late coming to it but I really enjoyed this poem and the wisdom that lies in it. The stones have watched the ages pass and must despair at what they see around them now. We may not survive, but they will. The photograph is beautiful.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Dave, lovely and stirring. When I was in first grade I heard that you could fit a million earths inside the sun. I took my crayons and tried to paint that idea. Fifty-seven years later I am still trying to size up the sun. When the men, women, and children who made Stonehenge were earth walkers, they used larger crayons.