Forgotten Date Poem by Philippa Lane

Philippa Lane

Chichester, West Sussex, England

Forgotten Date



The moon was full that night,
The air so close and warm,
Scented with fast-dying flowers
That still remained in woody bowers.
Oak apples hung dipped in molten light,
While gathering clouds hung low
Foretelling of a storm to come.

Quiet were the birds,
And quieter still the trees,
Like watchmen round the church
With inkept breath, motionless
For fear of waking death.

Musty tombs filled with icy chill
O'er run with nettles, greybrown moss,
Dead flowers drooped in confusion
Over graves or entwined
Around a cross.

Forgotten each mound,
Forgotten too the dead?
Leaving weeds to climb
Those crooked plaques
And over all to spread.

Amid the stones and unkempt grass
Stood the ancient church,
Her tapering spire pointed at the sky
In protestation,
Imploring it to withold the invasion
That it warned.
Inside, rays of moonlight filtered
Through the stained-glass window's
Vibrant shades, setting fire
To brass plaques
Beneath which the dead were laid.

Mice stirred in the gloom
And saw the light upon each tomb,
The dust arosee in spiral dance
Through silvery, rosehewn shafts
Wafting higher to the belfry
Where bats hung half asleep,
Half in a trance.

The scene was sinister and grey,
The pressing silence broken only
By screeching, echoing cries
Of some awakened birds,
And the fluttering of dead leaves
By a gust of wind were caught.

Such was that night, that All Soul's Eve:
The storm arising, black clouds rolling
Through angry, pregnant skies.
When the dead were meant to rise
From their decaying beds, to heave
Their grassy coverlets
From off their coffins
And walk the night restlessly
To the tolling of a phantom bell
And men's loud scoffing.

But no shapeless spirits rose,
No bell was heard,
No ghosts went strolling:
The graves were still,
The dead in sweet repose.

(England,1958)
(Romney Marsh, Kent)

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Peter A. Crowther 24 March 2005

Some lovely images, very Romantic :)

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Philippa Lane

Chichester, West Sussex, England
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