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Wednesday 26 September 2012

The Testament that Won't Lie Down

Deep sound from deep beneath the waves.
Itself a wave form. Ragged. Tremulous.
DONG. Muffled too.
Reduction by a decibel
would silence it.
DONG echo of the tenor bell
from Saint Sebastian's fine peal
and only heard on still nights when
the church bells call the faithful to
their act of worship.

It's been like this since pirate days
No bells tolled on the night they came.
A full five miles the channel runs
from harbour mouth towards the land.
No sound they made, no flap of sail
no splash of sea, no voices raised
no guiding lights from land or sky,
no sound of berthing at the quay.
The meadow by the church lay still.
No DONG to say the bell had gone,
nothing to give the game away -
until four miles away from land,
and still within the harbour's bounds,
the bell fell through the ships poor floor
and bell and ship and pirate crew
were swallowed by the hidden void
now known to all as the Bell Hole.

So when the sea rests peacefully
and congregations congregate
to Saint Sebastian's mellow sounds,
when keen ears tuned to spirit things 
catch echoes from the deep... the old bell
answering the new...
then all good souls at home abed 
will turn in turmoil in their sleep
and dream the old still stalks the new -
The Testament that won't lie down.
The Bosham Harbour Channel from St Sebastian's (actually Holy Trinity) churchyard.


Brian Miller said...

dave this is really cool...love what you did with the dong-ing of the bell...and how you wrapped around it the story of the town a bit...these constants like the bells, when they are gone are surely missed as they become part of the fabric of life....i remember them from as a child but hear them no more...

Mary said...

That is quite a tale, Dave. Is this based on a folk tale of your area by chance? Or is it pure imagination? Interesting that the bell fell through the ship's floor and all were swallowed by the 'bell hole.'

haricot said...

History is different from that of us, here in Japan, though I can hear the bell sounds and the echos by your style of writing and expression.

Anonymous said...

Hi DAve, agree with Brian - this is a bit like being the clapper, only the bell's turned inside out - with all the world its hollow, a wonderful conceit. k.

Ygraine said...

Really like this, Dave.
Is it a legend of this area, or a phenomenon that has been experienced here?
If it is the latter, then I would like to investigate it sometime.
Very intriguing indeed!

kaykuala said...

Pirates of old, stories of the sea. Mesmerizing. The church comes into the equation with bells ringing. Nicely Dave!


Linda said...

Very well written, Dave. I love the photo of that churchyard, too.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. But why was the bell stolen? I will be thinking about this for the day...

Cloudia said...

Bells tolling in the deep!


Aloha from Honolulu,

Comfort Spiral

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Dave King said...

Yes, I agree. They were part of the fabric of life. I surely remember that. Sad that they've slipped away.

Doreen and I spent a few days last weekend in a rather nice hotel in Bosham. This is a locally believed story concerning the Parish Church and The Bosham Channel, which is one of several fingers of Chichester Harbour. a very large natural harbour.

Good to hear about our differences, as well as what unites the cultures. Thanks.

Wonderful way to express it! Yes, I agree. Thanks for.

I don't really know much more than I've put in my reply to Mary. It certainly is a local myth, but how long it's been on, I'm not sure.

Aye, lad! Ye cant beat a Pirate of Olde tale! Thanks Hank.

Thanks for both.

The Elephant's Child
Sory, I don't know the answer to that one.

Thanks - I just typed "clanger" for your name! Don't ask why!

A Cuban In London said...

What a beautiful, rhythmic, onomatopoeic poem. Loved it. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.