Thursday, October 7, 2010

On Romney Marsh

National Poetry Day is an excuse to share this poem by John Davidson with you:

As I went down to Dymchurch Wall,
I heard the South sing o'er the land
I saw the yellow sunlight fall
On knolls where Norman churches stand.

And ringing shrilly, taut and lithe,
Within the wind a core of sound,
The wire from Romney town to Hythe
Along its airy journey wound.

A veil of purple vapour flowed
And trailed its fringe along the Straits;
The upper air like sapphire glowed:
And roses filled Heaven's central gates.

Masts in the offing wagged their tops;
The swinging waves pealed on the shore;
The saffron beach, all diamond drops
And beads of surge, prolonged the roar.

As I came up from Dymchurch Wall,
I saw above the Downs' low crest
The crimson brands of sunset fall,
Flicker and fade from out the West.

Night sank: like flakes of silver fire
The stars in one great shower came down;
Shrill blew the wind; and shrill the wire
Rang out from Hythe to Romney town.

The darkly shining salt sea drops
Streamed as the waves clashed on the shore;
The beach, with all its organ stops
Pealing again, prolonged the roar.

Davidson was a Scotsman who abandoned a career as a teacher to write. He committed suicide aged 52 in 1909, by drowning himself at sea. When I was a small child my family spent summers on Romney Marsh, and as a London child, I loved the open space and freedom to roam there. When I was given this poem to read for a drama exam, it was the first time I'd read anything that echoed my own experience. I liked the truthfulness of including the pervasive sound of the wind in the telegraph wire in a nature poem.

1 comment:

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