from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

stone heart

This morning: sun after several wild days. There's a young buzzard high up in the thermals, and two ravens playing. A young fox cub stepped onto the track in front of me and the dog, just yards away, paw lifted, sniffing the air. When the hunt comes, illegally, cubbing next month, I hope s/he is nousy enough to hide, or fleet enough to outstrip the hounds. And if I'm here when the hunt comes, I hope I'll be brave enough once again to stand between them and the hunted, should it be necessary.


In the state of Georgia, USA, a man is due to be executed today for a crime he probably didn't commit – despite the evidence, despite the international outcry and the tens of thousands of signatures on the e-petition. How can our hearts be big enough to hold all this, to grieve for who and what is lost, to carry on fighting injustice and oppression, to insist on being heard? And petitions do change things; let's not forget that the voice of the people, ultimately, is what changes governments and policies. Margaret Mead said: 'Never doubt that a group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that does.' There's still time to take action tonight, Wednesday, in the UK till midnight.  You can sign a petition – even this late – here:


When I go offline for a few days one or two of you sometimes write/s to ask how/where I am. You know – that is so appreciated! A huge compliment, to know that one's words are being read, and even maybe being missed...

And I'm mindful of the fact that each day so many trillions (and whatever is bigger than that) of words are being generated every second, all over the world. It's an odd thing, language; a word can change the world. Words are dangerous flammable beings. The Nazis burnt books.

I think of the Dhammapada (was it?) again: 'Better a single word that brings peace than a thousand useless words.' In a poem, every word has to count. In our lives? Well, in mine, anyway, I know that the wordmill is churning out so many billion per day, none of which is truly essential – in both senses of that word. And I spend most of my daytime time alone!

A friend posted this on facebook:

Pythagorean theorem: 24 words 
Lord's prayer: 66 words 
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words 
Ten Commandments: 179 words 
Gettysburg address: 286 words
US Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words 
US Constitution with all 27 Amendments: 7,818 words 
EU regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words.

Interesting, our priorities, huh?


The last three days I've been out in wild weather on the moors and coasts of Devon and Cornwall. Sometimes I can't believe my life: being paid to do what I love best – taking people (in this case a group of Swiss baccalaureate students) out onto the land to write poetry.

Sunday was Dartmoor: we walked from Widecombe to Bonehill with the shifting light, wild wind and stormy clouds, and a fine moorland mizzle, and the sun came out long enough for us to eat our lunches and write in the lee of Honeybag Tor with its fine views away to Haytor, and beyond it towards the invisible ocean...

Later we're walking with Liz from the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust through Bellever Forest to see if we can spot one of the rare herds of that endangered creature, the true (purebred) Dartmoor pony, native to this land for thousands of years. (The ponies one sees on the moor now are usually crossed with Shetlands, for their smaller size and sturdiness as pit ponies for the mining and quarrying.)

We do (spot a little herd of five):

And Liz takes us to a new-to-me small area of megalithic activity (the moor has about 5000 scattered megaliths or megalithic sites, from the late Neolithic to the Bronze Age).

Lakehead Hill has a stone circle or two, a couple of kistvaens (Brythonic Celtic word, meaning stone grave, or cairn) and a reconstructed stone row (rather inaccurately; our prehistoric ancestors built their monuments with extreme precision, whereas the Victorian reconstructionists managed to give what should be a dead straight row a kink to one side, curving like a weighted ball). The old Lychway also passes through here.

On Monday we went to Slapton Ley, from where the stone heart photo came. I loved watching 9 teenagers grouped around the heart they'd put together, arms around each other...

And then yesterday was Boscastle harbour and the Witchcraft Museum, followed by Tintagel (or 'Dyn Tagell') Castle, a seal, and a High Tale of Love and Death... but that's another story...


  1. Lovely. I take vicarious pleasure from your days on the moors.
    I signed the petition but to no avail...
    I check your blog almost daily and enjoy your connection to this earthly paradise and to the more spiritual side of things too.
    I have just received a book by john burnside called black cat bone.... thank you for bringing him to my attention.
    Meanwhile, we are having a very hot autumn, with blue skies every day. I look forward to a bit of rain when the grass grows green again...

  2. As always, a joy to read..your blog is becoming a very special sojourn.

  3. veronica, michael - thank you so much for those lovely affirming words! the more so as it's my birthday - and also because I'm ill... :-( but i think a stroll by the river is still possible. thank you for helping create this circle of people who love what I love - and V am so glad you enjoy John Burnside's poetry, tho the new one you mtnion is darker than others - but the darkness is part of it too; and here we are today, autumn equinox, finding ways to hold the light and the dark in ourselves in balance, too - love to you both


  4. get well rosie dear..............we will play the autumn equinox for you tonight xxx


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