Spring Forward, Fall Back

Beaty Rubens has woven a wonderful tapestry of sound and voices out of the NCLA’s  recent project based on Lindisfarne.  I’ve just listened to it on Radio 4 and it should be available to ‘listen again’ (and is repeated next Saturday evening at 11.30).  Although our last visit in April seems a very long time ago, hearing the words, the sea and the general hubbub brought it all back – in the way only a recording can.

Twelve poets were commissioned to write a poem marking this summer’s return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East.  I wrote mine in response to the gift of a photo of some Silverweed growing on the sea shore from Ajahn Sucitto, a monk in the Theravadin Buddhist tradition.  His discipline, although less austere than St Cuthbert’s, is still impressive in its rigour and integrity.  I find such counter-cultural commitment and restraint very moving – a good model but hard to follow.

Aren’t we all pilgrims?  One step forward, two steps back?



Argentina anserina

You send me a pilgrim-monk’s-eye view –

our lord’s footsteps, cinquefoil – gold and silver

sprung out of the sand, leaves like feathers, spray.

Crimson runners are lines on a manuscript,

join what needs to be joined, arteries

of earth and heart: the shudder of the sea

not far away; a sadness in the stretch

and snap of the waves, the way they suck themselves

back, sadder.  You steer your course with such grace,

a brother’s footsteps I try to follow,

asking for nothing – amazed when what blooms

in the imprint of each carefully planted heel

and toe is a sudden illumination

of silver and gold, home for the mutual,

that amniotic salt we’ve been berthed in

over and over.  All I need to do

is open the book of my heart and keep on

looking.  Here, traveller – goosewort, richette

tuck some fresh leaves inside your shoes

to leaven the crossing, our long walking.


You can hear more – live – later in November…


A talk and poetry reading

Location: St Edmunds Chapel, High Street, Gateshead
Time/Date: 15th November 2013, 19:15

There will be a talk by Professor Clare Lees, King’s College London, about the Antiphonal project, a performance by poets involved and a chance to experience the installation created by sound and interaction artist, Tom Schofield. A published pamphlet of the specially commissioned poems, Shadow Script, will be available to buy on the night. The exhibition runs from 15 to 21 November.

Tickets for this event are free, but should be booked in advance from the NCLA site.

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2 thoughts on “Spring Forward, Fall Back

  1. VICKI FEAVER says:

    Loved the silverweed poem, Linda! Another great poem to add to my collection of poems about flowers!

  2. I listened to the programme, really enjoyed it, lots of memories of being on Lindisfarne came flooding back. Was sorry to miss the Durham exhibition. Love your silverweed poem!

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