Marshwood Vale

Poetry by David Bushrod

Poems from Marshwood Vale

Etchings by Roger St Barbe


The frosts of Winter still enshroud this scene, But soon the little beaks of muted green Now breaking through the fertile earth will bring, The first of all the flowers that bloom in Spring: And when the dainty pendent bells unfold We'll glimpse the tiny stamens drenched in gold.

'Ashley Chase' etching by Roger St BarbeSt Catherine's Chapel

More like a fortress than a saintly shrine With massive walls and solid barrel vault, Was it perhaps by an inspired design Built to withstand the infidel's assault? Long since abandoned on this windswept hill, Like some proud outcast now it stands alone, Defending with indomitable will Something more precious than the crumbling stone For rosaries of fervent prayer have left A presence here by which the heart is stirred: Though lonely, desecrated and bereft, The echo of our faith can still be heard.


Dusk seeps across the vale, As darkness dawns the radiant colours die, And then the night creates A photographic negative of day. A magpie world in which The strange and the familiar seem wed. On silent ghostly wings, The nightjar haunts the margin of the wood, And in the shapeless gloom About the moonlit heath, the badger stirs, And fiery glow-worms ape The distant beauty of the twinkling stars.

Remembrance day

I can remember when the poppies grew In scarlet drifts about the shepherd's folds, But nothing beautiful will ever grow In all these weed infested fields. Shall we forget in future barren years, That where the nettles and the ragwort stand, There bloomed, in other years, much finer flowers, And once these fields with richer hues were stained.

In pace requiescat

Just like the shards of faith that can be found Entombed amongst the debris in the mind, Cadaverous beneath this narrow mound The Abbey's old foundations lie confined.

'Bluebells on Lewesdon Hill' etching by Roger St BarbeLewesdon Hill

The ancient woods on Lewesdon Hill Are paradise to me, For under Summer skies I find Profound serenity. But does the beauty draw me here To these romantic glades? Or does some siren spirit haunt These woods as twilight fades. The beauty here is manifest: The restless sighing trees, And view across the sunken vale Of distant sparkling seas; The scent of woodbine; wild brier rose; And fresh unsullied dawn; The glory of the dappled light That hides the sleeping fawn. But spirits too seem still to drift About this sacred place, Of Marshwood men who tilled the soil But left no earthly trace, And when my spirit shall be free To wander like the breeze, I think that it will settle too Like mist about these trees.

The wayward gorse

Deep lies the snow about the withered bracken And rough winds bend the branches of the pine. All, all is frozen still and Summer's sleep unbroken. But leave the vale and go where voices beckon, High on the windy slopes of Pilsdon Pen, For there the wayward gorse is flowering like a beacon.