This is one of a series of poems, written by my Grandmother, that represent a portrait of her childhood in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, places and people she loved who are, for the most part, no longer with us. She dedicates each and every poem to her daughters, and has kindly given me permission to share them with you all, enjoy…
The Old Church
Old churches fascinated us.
Not so much the content, as it were –
We knew God was up there above
The sky, and down below, set to lure
The unwary, old Nick himself –
But in the churches round about, we
Blended with our past, the old knights
Even kings, in marbled prayer, the key
To open every mystery and myth;
Ethelred, lying there at Wimbourne
And various Salisburys and such.
But, when we were young, we did not scorn
The humbler buildings. One night at
Portesham, we left the hall where we
Were dancing, and sat in darkness
In the nearby church. we could not see
Much more than a suggestion of
Slightly less dense blackness where windows
Ought to be. We did not know what
To expect would happen, or what foes
Should lurk within the house of God;
But when the wheezing clock struck midnight
We bolted, though I never knew
The true reason for our craven flight.
Was it fear of undead spirits
At this bewitching hour? Or just then,
Did we remember that my mother
Had expected us since half-past ten?
© Dorothy Davis-Sellick 1998 onwards