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Tag Archives Celts


Yesterday was New Year’s Eve and the fountain

was drained to prevent too much merriment.

So the bronze, nude young ladies disport themselves

in dry, cold air. The equestrian statue

of Maria Theresa, mother

of sixteen, and the last of the Holy

Roman Empresses appears unamused,

though whether by the municipality’s

actions or the girls’ appears unclear.

Last month’s heavy snow remains in small,

sheltered drifts behind occasional trees.

What was an Hungarian aristocrat’s

formal palace garden in the French style

has become –



Driving to Scotland, via the North East,
to celebrate six months in a new job,
we stayed overnight in Durham to see
the romanesque, sandstone cathedral
with its relics of Cuthbert, Oswald and Bede,
denizens of Northumbria and its isles.
Next day, I saw a sign for Bamburgh –
somewhere I had visited in boyhood –
and suggested a detour off the A1.
We never made it over the border.

We drove down lanes lined with oak, ash, hawthorn,
and saw Bamburgh Castle against the sea,
resplendent on its volcanic outcrop
in a northern August afternoon sun,



For Alex Cox

‘I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.’ Winston Churchill

As usual, he dresses for town
in anticipation of the King’s summons –
which never comes. After breakfast, he reads
The Times and the Daily Telegraph, notes
Ghandi’s lenient sentence of six years
in prison without hard labour – then,
reflecting on unrest throughout the Empire,
puts on his smock and his homburg and strolls,
cigar lit, the short walk to his studio.
He pours a small portion of Johnny Walker –



Out of the rutting, summer undergrowth,

a rasping roar… Saxons considered them

the mark of kings… Celts believed they were fairy

cattle, herded and milked by goddesses…


Though hundreds of thousands are culled or die

on the roads each year, we may have two million

wild deer because of autumn planting,

mild winters, new woodland and the death

of the lynx: ruminant, secretive,

destructive by default in residual

forests, on moor land, in the green belts

that join towns to cities – 



Valle Crucis Abbey, Richard Wilson, circa 1760



Where willow stoops in curling shallows, May

stirs branches that creak like rigging or rub

like silk. The cuckoo sings its unsettling,

solemn roundelay. Sun gilds the abbey’s

west wall. The glassless rose window is a

blinded eye in a Romanesque skull –

indulgence in a wilderness. The Blood of

the Lamb coursed through the old ways of Keltoi,

Celtae, Celts. Time the dissembler leaches

the earth of language,



Above every Mairie flaps the Tricolour.

On every lawn, in every yard through the gut

of America – where the Great Plains began

before the farmers came with wheat and pigs

and soya fields – Old Glory flutters.

Above the reception desk in every

riad in Morocco the king’s photo hangs.

Here, things are never that unambiguous.


In a street near the foot of the Downs,

too steep for tables, they have strung bunting

from house to house,



‘Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound…and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.’ Leviticus 25:9 & 25.10


Much of the chapters and footnotes of England’s,

though not Britain’s, history are scribed here

in stone and iron – Roman Walls, Norman weir,

marshalling yards – the rest is on paper,

of course, and from hearsay. It is said,

for example, for Victoria’s Jubilee,

in our street,