Saturday, 21 July 2018

Rippling ribbons of colour

Voices from the hay

 a BM125 event

gathers thoughts, feeling and wonders from an old meadow

An earlier blog described the new BM125 project and the following grows from the first public event there.

With BM125, we are encouraging people to reflect creatively on the connections between the Museum collections and the local landscapes they came from. Wherever we can, we will record those reflections. So here is our first collective poem, growing like a meadow itself from many seeds whispered on the wind or as word-pollen and thistledown blown on the breeze of people’s voices.
There will be a spoken version available soon as well


We sink
Into a field rustling and bustling with life,
Into a froth of grass,
Into a sea of grasshopper sound,
A dream where nothing changes.
The cows sleeping under a willow
Have been resting there for centuries.

Memories are rooted in these meadows,
In the fleeting lives of butterflies,
In nodding seedheads,
In thistledown drifting on a hot breeze.
Farms, families, paths, tools and stories,
All knitted to the earth as tightly as the turf.
Childhood holidays rooted here too,
New names, first meetings,
Stonechats, curlews, those grasshoppers again

The rhythm of a scythe echoes across centuries
They walked where we walk,
Those old farmers on a summer day,
The slice and hiss of a blade and
The whetstone that hones the edge,
Finding shade under these same trees,
Cutting the waving grass from the same sward.

Harebell and cranesbill
Selfheal and tormentil,
Scabious and burnet,

The names are an enchantment
A spell for a meadow,
Whispered on a dusty wind
Colour, scent, pollen and promise,
Foxtail, cocksfoot,
Fescue, vernal and bent,
The rooted and the free,
Meadow brown and large white,
Ringlet and tortoiseshell,

Prayers blown between earth and sky.

Futures are rooted in this rare and ancient place,
Still growing memories
Having fun in the river, catching insects,
A diving beetle!

Knapweed and burnet knod purple heads
Studding the rippling ribbons of colour
Black medick nods, yellow heads in the hot dry grass.
Seeds of the future in a rare and ancient place,
Lose the meadow and the memories wither too,
The cows across the field will sleep only in the present. 

And here is a set of small pieces that didn’t quite fit into the larger poem


1. Bumblebees embroider the meadow
Knotting threads with flight paths
Charting by pollen, by nectar, colour coding
Scent-coding, the maps of their lives.

2. Yellow rattle whispers,
Dry and sandy,
Small bones in a bag,
A snake’s angry warning.

3. Bony fingers in the tops of the ash trees
Point a warning to the future

4. Falling sky splinters
Into scabious and cornflower blue,
While tormentil nestles in the grass,
Droplets of sunshine on the green

5. The promise of memories to grow with the hay
The dread of fields empty of hope

With many thanks to all our poets and artists
There will be more BM125 events and posts here and in other blogs and on other platforms from our artists


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