The dead lie quiet and watchful here, I think,
Beneath the waving wildflowers
And tall grasses bleached blonde
By intermittent summer sun.
A lady lies here, or a kind man maybe;
War-like in weapons only
But quiet in heart and mind.
The other dead, dust alone remaining,
Resent the relentless tread
Of dull and careless feet
That wear the crown of the barrow bald
And lay bare the chalky soil
In an uncertain stony path.
The great stones, a glance away,
Command the attention of the dull throng
Caught up in automatic wonder
Walking the stony circus round and round
While here, unheeded, the real ancestors lie.


10 thoughts on “Barrows

    • thank you!
      I wrote it in the car when we’d just been to visit Stonehenge and I’d got fed up being jostled by (other) tourists and wandered off into the area around the henge. the picture is one I painted of a small henge in Wales a year or to later.
      The poem won second in a national contest(regional heat) some years ago.


  1. I love your use of language.Good poem – very apt for this site.
    And when I came to the following verse I can see what is meant in the deeper sense, though it is set out in simple, beautiful, descriptive, narrative.

    “The other dead, dust alone remaining,
    Resent the relentless tread
    Of dull and careless feet
    That wear the crown of the barrow bald
    And lay bare the chalky soil”

    Viv, this clearly shows your skill as a writer-poet. I’m not surprised the poem won an award.

    I’m very glad to know you.



    • Bless your heart John, it wasn’t an award as such, just second place in the Ottakar’s(remember them?) poetry contest, east Midlands section. I won a certificate and a hefty tome of WW2 poetry. I was also VERY pissed off, but in an outwardly gracious way, that I didn’t win because all the winners of the regional heat were then read and judged by the then poet Laureate Andrew Motion! I’m not a bad loser but several people came up to me and expressed their puzzlement about why I hadn’t won(all strangers) after the presentation. Simple reason? The judge knew the winner from her writing group/course. Hey ho! The world turns and it always seems to turn that way…


  2. I love the image you paint wit your words, Viv, especially, “resent the relentless tread, of dull and careless feet.” For me, it describes the tragic loss of a sense of living history and ground made holy by a storied past. As always, just lovely.


    • There were a LOT of tourists there that day who were there without any understanding or thought of what the place was or what it might mean. I’m sorry to say a lot were Americans; I must write some day about Glastonbury and the day the World of Arthur Tours descended….
      Thank you!


  3. The first time I was at Stonehenge I couldn’t believe the masses… so I decided to gain special access… being with the stones is a completely different thing than walking around them. It took me a moment to atune to that feeling of … strange difference… but I started to understand what people mean when they talk about Faerie… it was still the same place, yet it wasn’t.
    Lovely poem, I especially like the “uncertain stony path” … seems to say a lot about us humans today


    • I expect it is very different. When I first went back in the early 80s, on a day trip with my dad, you could get very much closer. Now, you are held at arms’ length.
      Have you ever been to Avebury? There is no restrictions to the stones there and as the largest stone circle in the UK, the village being built within the stones themslves, it can take all day to get round them. I and my husband(and dog) walked the whole sacred landscape there some years ago on a very hot day. The hippies and the New Agers don’t get much past the car park, so once you are out at the edges, you have various places to yourself.
      I once almost got lost and ended in Avalon, while camping in Glastonbury many years ago, but that’s another story!
      Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comment!


  4. Yes, I love Avebury. I once went looking for a tiny stone circle supposedly close by… it started raining and it took me ages to get back… maybe that’s what such places do to people… give them a taste of Avalon 😉
    You camped in Glastonbury? I used to travel up from Exeter when I was at uni…


    • There is a site now closed on the very slopes of the Tor.
      There’s another one a bit further away, called the Isle of Avalon campsite which is very good quality but a bit pricey compared with the very basic on next to the Tor. I found it hilarious to overhear the conversations; quite surreal!
      We found a barrow over grown with mature trees that people had used as a shrine for a friend who’d died in a car accident; quite moving.


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