A selection of poems written by local poet and singer, Maureen Sutton.
Maureen Sutton is a poet, author, historian, folklorist and singer. Lincolnshire born, she has been an active founder member of the Lincoln Folk Song Club since its early days in 1963, both as an organiser and a singer, and has appeared on both radio and television. Her books include We Didn’t Know Aught: Study of Sexuality, Superstition and Death in Women’s Lives in Lincolnshire During the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s (Paul Watkins 1992) and A Lincolnshire Calendar (Paul Watkins 1997).
Waddington Churchyard in Spring (thinking of Eva Hall)
A glory of celandines reflects sunlight
polishing white war-graves, highlighting
names of the fallen.
Perched on branches of budding horse chestnut
a pitying of collared-doves suddenly takes flight,
feathers free-fall like parachutes over Candlemas bells.
Daffodils, grape-hyacinths and polyanthas bloom
bright as a bride’s bouquet on a spinster’s grave
whose sweetheart’s cross is out of reach.
Candlemas bells is another name for snowdrops in Lincolnshire. They are also known as February Maids.
Pitying is the collective noun for pigeons.
Hear Maureen reading this poem HERE
Shaped by Sound
The sod beneath my feet has absorbed
the plough-man’s tread; boots softened
by creak and bend, one leg always higher.
His clicking tongue called commands:
‘Whoa, turn’, furrows run deep in fenlands.
The weight of horses’ shoes indented clay.
Harrow and plough have cut through earth
sparked limestone. Ridge and furrow
have written their own psalms.
Bird-song: crow, cuckoo, peewit, sky-lark,
each composed a chorus for sunrise
ceaselessly calling through changing seasons.
Invisible winds, breezes, storms, howling gales
lifted and shifted top-soil, sculptured willow,
hawthorn, hedges, oak, and ash to a sacred grove
defining enclosure, boundaries, ‘right of way.’
Ancient towers and steeples have absorbed
the prayers of my ancestors. I hear them in my
mind’s ear, clear as village church bells.
Dykes and ditches diverted water-courses, pushed
back the sea, reclaimed the land where green
mists still rise. All flow with their own rhythm
like migrant geese leaving and returning.
This is my county. This is Lincolnshire.
Over The Top
From Wellingore to Waddington a riot
of red poppies bleed over the Lincoln-edge
staining stone walls, quenching parched earth.
The brazen little tarts had dropped their petals,
scattered black seeds like pepper from a pot,
handed out headaches with their dancing
rhythm of death, called home their loved ones,
an annual ritual before the fall.
Summer breezes now sing melodies, mimic heartbeat,
bend youth-green wheat to a tidal landscape,
a rippling wave as far as the Trent.
Cliff-edge villages are where square towers
and tall steeples grow out of the soil,
rich as the wool they were built on,
their roots deeper than poppies, worthy
as wheat, stones older than our heritage,
heavy as loss for the sons who never returned.
All poems copyright © Maureen Sutton. All rights reserved.