Daily Archives: September 9, 2013

The Singing Bowl: Southwell Leaves


The Green Man at Southwell

To celebrate the fact that we now have a publication date (October 25th) and a Launch Date (November 6th) for my new volume of poetry The Singing Bowl, I am going to feature some of the poems in it, on this blog in some of my posts leading up to the publication. It is a more wide-ranging colection than Sounding the Seasons, and its opening section ‘Local Habitations’ is a series of poems celebrating moments of epiphany in specific and particular places. Today’s poem, Southwell Leaves was inspired by the extraordinary mediaeval ‘green man’ and foliage carvings in Southwell Minster. It is also in some ways a companion piece to my song The Green Man. In that song I celebrate fruitfulness, fecundity and resurrection, with just an implicit hint of the hidden Christ in the Green Man imagery, but in this poem I go more deeply into that Christ-presence and focus on o the cross, on the letting go, the seed that is willing to have its husk flailed away and be dropped into dark winter ground, that there might be resurrection for us all.

As usual you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button

Southwell Leaves

Amidst the tympanum

His stone hair startles from

A face in the foliage.

Not just the bearded barleycorn

But a whole field springing,

The vine and all its tendrils,

Unfold from the face,

Trip from the tongue

That speaks the Word

Amidst the tympanum.


But by the rood-screen here,

His face is set like flint,

The Word unheard,

He gives his back to the smiters

His cheeks to them that pluck out the hair,

His spring is come to shame and spitting,

Under the blows the cut stones splinter

The Green Man comes to winter,

To the harness and the harrow

As flails fall to split the bearded husk

And seeds fall to the furrow,

Amidst the tympanum,

Hard by the rood-screen here.

southwell leaves

Southwell Leaves


Filed under imagination