Writings and Witterings

Time, Fire, and War-thieves


Up the gravel-crusted drive
in between the trees
rhododendrons, magenta reds,
heads bowing in the breeze.
Could it be better from an open carriage?
A thought that leads to doubts.
Wrapt in love
a doomed marriage
Witley Court.

It rose to the left
like a faery castle,
not in a mist
save a mist of trees
casting lime-light,
dappled white.
A faery castle…
Crumbling, collapsing warm, dusty walls
ravished by time, fire, and war-thieves
who wanted the lead. She calls…
this faery castle raped of her innards,
allowed to fall
away from her bones
but left…
a shell, a decrepit shell,
a shell crying out:
‘Do not let me die,’ she begged,
‘Come and see my church.’
Close, we entered

and inside the huge double oak doors
a porch, and more doors
and inside the double oak doors…
what to look at first?
The font with warm wooden carvings
where stone angels kneel?
The Bellucci ceiling, as close to Michelangelo ever seen?
A feast to confuse the eye.
Would that we had been born to this
we’d have saved her.
No need to say, she knew
and wrapped her arms about us
in a magic cloak.

The Court
allowed access,
sweeping grass paths inviting
‘Come pace, sit on benches, adore’
and we did for awhile.
Damp manicured green,
green lawns before
the clock tower,
gracious Grecian columns;
onwards to the central wooden bench
to the statue of St George.
St George infinitely slaying the dragon–
lanceless, they’d taken that too–
time, fire, or war-thieves.

A place of memory,
company perfect
for a time;
time and place remain
in the mind forever,
time, fire and war-thieves
never inconsequent.

Polly Robinson © 2011


20 thoughts on “Time, Fire, and War-thieves

  1. Evocative of many places and past places in this sceptred isle.
    sorry, my head is still reeling from Richard 2nd.


    • The Richard II shown 30 June on BBC2? I missed it but a friend tells me she was moved to tears … must have been some production.

      Thanks for your thoughts Aprille.


      • As I said on the OLN page: you can still watch it on BBC-Iplayer.
        And it is certainly worth it. I watched it many times.
        BTW, was that your comment?/thoughts?


  2. Nice capture of faery castle that has fallen into neglect by time and emptied by war -thieves ~ I specially like that you gave her a voice and persona like a woman begging to be noticed ~ Great job here ~



  3. nice…you create such a picture with all the sights and detail in this …a feast for my eyes for sure…smiles….


  4. Your writing touched and intrigued me. I took a moment to look up the history of this lovely manor. It is a shame that it was allowed to fall to ruin after an accidental fire and that insurance did not cover it. Even more so a shame that it was split up, sold and picked apart for scrap, but lovely to see that the gardens are being restored. Perhaps someday this estate will again rise to it’s former glory. Very thoughtful piece.


    • Nice to see you here Ginny. Witley Court is an English Heritage property now and much has been done to restore the gardens; the church is still beautiful and the shell of the manor has been made safe. It’s just a beautiful space 🙂

      Thank you for your thoughts ~ Polly


  5. You use such great imagery and have a wonderful narrative. I really enjoyed this. 🙂


  6. nice..you paint a vivid picture here.. when i was in barcelona they told the story of St George and roses growing from the dragon’s blood when he slayed him and because of this men give a red rose to their girl on st. george’s day…and when the girl has no boy friend, her father will give her one…i found this rather charming..smiles


  7. Past and present mingling with magic… Verrrry nice…


  8. When I lived in Brittany, we happened upon a smaller castle that was going to ruins. This image evoked that experience and I liked the personification of the castle asking to be rescued.


  9. Nice to be brought back on a nostalgic journey. It’s so touching to ‘hear’ a castle personified, Polly!



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