Poetry Book

Lyrical Land: Poems of Southern Britain

 John Light

(33 pages, stapled, card cover).
ISBN 978 1 897968 41 3
US$10; US$11 air

In his introduction the author wrote:

This collection begins with the poem Leaving London with which my previous one, Chimerical City, finished. In a way this symbolises the break in my life when I was eleven and my family moved from London to Harlow New Town in the rural north of Essex. It is also a reflection of my later life when I worked in Stepney and lived in Tring in the Chiltern Hills, so made the transition daily. Leaving London each evening was a longer journey for my mind than for my body.
It was the southern counties of Britain that made the earliest and longest impact on my appreciation of landscape and perhaps because this happened in my childhood and youth these poems are as much about the country of books as that of reality; drawn as much from that mindscape peopled by Alfred the Great and Samwise the Hobbit, the country of legend, history and fiction; as from the wide skies, far vistas and winding lanes, the secret combes and hidden villages of the real countryside.
This collection has a softer face than Chimerical City but there are darker moments. I hope others may find destinations in some of these poems.

Some poems from the book

Cleeve Hill

Oolitic limestone's tiny eggs
gave birth to Cleeve Hill's grassy hump,
reared up from oceans' cloudy depths
to meet white clouds of England's sky.

From this high place I scan the land,
the villages and scattered farms,
strait lanes and rivers winding far
from past to future wandering.

Arthur's Stone

North of Abbey Dore's spare beauty
past Dorstone towards Bredwardine
high on a hill above the vale,
there stands the cromlech Arthur's Stone.

If he sleeps here he'll be at peace,
peace that is not heavy silence
but quiet with the quietness
of little sounds, of bird and breeze.

No massive architecture there
but the trees slim swaying columns,
no music but the sighing winds.

Within the tomb it is not night
but soft twilight.


The sky lies on the ground,
in winter puddles
  until Spring's breezy warmth
frees it to float away.


The older he became, the further he could see.

He noticed distant hills he'd never seen before;
and on these blue hills were thin lines of deeper blue
as of lanes, and glints of sun on cottage windows,
and mountains grew where there'd been only banks of cloud.

And he himself dwelt half in our small world of now,
half in a larger, where life was art and art life,
so that all around looked strange, but half-remembered,
pale as the ghostly planet of a fast fading star.

He breathed wild flowers; and in his ears was music.

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(Page amended 10 May 2014)

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