Andrew Barber

(16 August 1969 / Wisbech)

Lady of the Fen


By spring in rise from slumber long,
She smiles with light and morning song.
In fertile bloom as colours burst,
Her gentle arms, embrace while nurse.

A lady as by summer’s grace,
Adorned in ribbons and gilded lace.
Braids of green while flaxen hair,
With softest touch and temper fair.

As mother come by harvest moon,
In blush of shades, as flush with swoon.
By hand and gather, plough and till,
Thrash while bail, grind and mill.

In walk, the mistress, these acres wide,
Cast endless to horizons glide.
With frosted kiss and drifting skies,
A simple grace where beauty lies.

Submitted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Edited: Monday, July 29, 2013
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Poet's Notes about The Poem

I was recently persuaded to break one of my golden rules of NEVER entering poetry competitions and submitted to the Fenland Poet Laureate event. I have since discovered I haven’t made the shortlist which means I can now share the work with you.

The given subject for the poem was “Fenland” and you were permitted to twist this into whatever shape and metaphor you wished.

I come from a farming background, I spent my childhood wandering acres of fenland plains, fishing for sticklebacks in ditches, angling in drains and looking for foxes and badgers. I was deeply exposed to the agricultural elements of the fen with its seasonal crops and labour.

The fenland scene changes a great deal from season to season, from the green shoots of spring with hedgerows bursting with may flower to the stark and open landscapes of winter.

In this poem, I have opted for a subtle approach, this isn’t an in your face advert for Fenland England but more a graceful glance at the metaphor that helps define it. Our lady is a nurse, nurturing the new shoots of crops as they spring, while wild flowers and blossom burst into colour.

She wears the ribbons of the fenland drains and the gilt yellow of oil seed rape that paints the fields surrounding. Her hair of wheat and barley is tied and contrast by braids of green, as would be hedgerow. I see summer about her, with butterflies and lightest breeze.

Come harvest and our lady labours hard while she blushes with the colours of autumn. The metaphor here is thinner, as we expose acts such as plough and till, grind and mill.

Finally, as winter comes, our lady walks amid wide horizons with endless skies. She is again plain and without colour, yet still beautiful.

The poem gives us the annual cycle of life in the Fens with the last verse conveniently leading back to the first.

Of course these are my views, I love that the reader may see something different and would even encourage them to do so. I don’t normally invite comment, but on this occasion I would like to ask, that if possible, you please let me know what you think.

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