Burnham Norton, St Mary's Friary - Kevin Crossley-Holland

Waterslain: ‘Tertiary’ 

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.


Seasoned perennial,

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.


For more information about Kevin’s work visit www.kevincrossley-holland.com

St Mary's Friary, Bunrham Norton, NHER 1738

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