This poem revolves around the ruins of the 13th century Carmelite Friary at Burnham Norton. We all know places in Norfolk where earlier generations, earlier centuries, seem to be no more than a breath away; this is one of them.
This poem is the copyright of Kevin Crossley-Holland and is reproduced by permission of the Enitharmon Press.
Down a lane holm-oaks
hallow, all but islanded by drifts
stocky and immaculate-
snowdrop, anemone, marguerite-
Old Agnes flourishes.
rubicund and rotund, always affable,
she leads pilgrims out
to the green hollow
(earth springy, then giving)
and the silent ferment sweet to the tongue,
the nipples flowing.
'Here is the canal
the poor souls row down to get provisions. . .'
Suffused with lily pads and bulrushes.
'This is the aching arch
of departure and return. . .'
Grey-green with lichen, crumbling.
‘And here is their Dormitory. . .'
Stones for pillows.
So very little reason
why they should not be
here, white habits, white cowls,
thronging this place.
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St Mary's Friary, Bunrham Norton, NHER 1738