Thursday, 17 November 2016

Tintern Abbey: A ghost of the shape it once had

'A ghost of the shape it once had', a misquote from Ronald Johnson's long-form poem, The Book of the Green Man; reflections on travels around Britain in 1962, passing by Tintern on the way: ‘We have forgotten, now, the original inspiration of Tintern Abbey.’

‘We began today
to trace the course
of the Wye

into “Wild
Wales,” Chepstow to Plynimmon’ 

‘… up Wyndcliffe, wooded with huge oaks’

‘Then descended

fields bounded with hedge,

each bud & thorn
pendant with

to Tintern –

not one tufted column, no wall
a mass of moving foliage. Only – the Window.

Its seven delicate shafts
the frame for a more ephemeral world
than glass:

the passing clouds,
the passing, voluminous, green clouds –

in hilly

Then, leaving the river, over the hill, to St. Briavels.’

The Book of the Green Man available from Uniform Books.

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