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

5 responses to “The Singing Bowl: Southwell Leaves

  1. lanciaesmith

    Hello Malcolm,

    I am so happy for you about the release date of this book! Just in time for your birthday! 🙂

    Let me know if you would like to do an interview for this like you have done for Sounding the Seasons. No worries if you don’t but I certainly would be glad to do that if it appeals to you.

    You are much in my prayers and I greatly look forward to seeing you in November on both sides of the Pond.


    On Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 8:18 AM, Malcolm Guite

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Lancia, yes I’d like to do another interview, also there will be an American Launch at the Houston conference if we can get the books over to Becca in time. I’ll email M

  2. Thank you Malcolm. And congratulations. Elizabeth

  3. Pingback: The Singing Bowl: Glances | Malcolm Guite

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.