Sunday, 31 August 2014

The ruin of Llanthony Prima

I am involved in a nationwide project called, Cyfoeth Cymru Gyfan, Sharing Treasures, which is a government backed scheme headed up by Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum Wales. The enterprise takes the form of two exhibitions running in Abergavenny Museum, and Chepstow Museum until the end of September. The museums are hanging artwork inspired by the Abbeys at Llanthony and Tintern; artists such as, the Buck brothers, Palmer, Turner, Dayes, Hodges, Sandby, Tudor, Grimm, Buckler, Piper, Craxton, Ravilious, Jones, Gill, and many, many more. Also featured are the work of Walter Savage Landor and William Wordsworth.

These exhibitions are possibly the biggest to land at the museums, and are a huge cultural event for Monmouthshire. The seclusion and beauty of these once remote valleys of Monmouthsire really burst from the works and encourage a sense of communion with the elements and light.

I am a volunteer guide at the exhibition in Abergavenny, and I ran a workshop with learners on the Arts Award scheme about ten days ago, and in September I will be spending time with pupils at those schools closest to the Abbeys. To prepare for this I have been crashing in my van, Randolf, up at Llanthony in order to garner inspiration to write in order to offer examples of my own to the budding poets I will be working with. Their work, inspired by the Abbeys and the artwork in the exhibitions, will be displayed in a follow up exhibition in October. This scheme is called Sites of Inspiration.

I have written a rhyming haiku, and a villanelle. The haiku has a bit of a story. St Davids Church, Llanthony, is still in use today and is a sweet little place. Apparently the foundations are laid to the sunrise on March 1st! as you step out of the porch, the ruin of the Abbey rises to meet you.

On leaving St Davids Church, Llanthony

A laying of stones
to a saint and a sunrise.
The valley has bones.

The ruin of Llanthony Prima, 2014

Peace that builds to sleep in the driving ear
breaking from stones laid down in cordoned faith
cleanses the eyes when daylight starts to veer.

Worship begins when only stars can steer
or stones launch the blessing of their own grace,
peace that builds to sleep in the driving ear.

Round angles of valley bring the sky near
flooding light to colour in streams that race
so eyes are cleansed when daylight starts to veer.

Thimbles of light, glutting the moonless stair
trim the ruin into a looming wraith
and the peace builds sleep in the driving ear.

Elements of nature in spate will clear
monuments built above their simple base,
so cleansed eyes see when daylight starts to veer.

Binding interludes of light bladed air
thrill the blood to climb from unfeeling wastes
Peace that builds to sleep in the driving ear
cleanses the eyes when daylight starts to veer.