stdClass Object
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    [ID] => 18296
    [post_author] => 23
    [post_date] => 2017-09-28 16:34:33
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-28 16:34:33
    [post_content] => There’s this little church, looks a million years old,
lying on the edge of a wood which Robin Hood
and Marian probably wandered.

It’s hodgepodge, patchwork stuff:
trunks of trees, drawn from the forest,
line its walls blackly, and these are Saxon;

the brick is later, Tudor perhaps,
and mud-red as if freshly pulled from the kiln.
The tower, licked white like a lighthouse,

a light to guide approaching tourists:
here, religion lingers on.
When you push the gate aside

it creaks as if you’re breaking its heart.
Stepping into the churchyard,
you feel like you’ve come centuries late.

Gravestones lie, older than language, or almost,
because the words have been rubbed off
by rain, or magic. One is huddled by itself

near the door, remembering an old knight
who fought for a God that was still young.
Scuffed with reverence, it makes you think of

harsher times, when wool was wet and heavy
but all you had, and your shoes drowned in mud,
and England was a little wind-battered island

floating off some wider shore.
    [post_title] => A church on the edge of the world
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
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    [post_name] => a-church-on-the-edge-of-the-world
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    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2017-09-28 16:34:33
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-28 16:34:33
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://poems.poetrysociety.org.uk/?post_type=poems&p=18296
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => poems
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        (
            [wpcf-published-in] => 
            [wpcf-date-published] => 2017
            [wpcf-summary-description] => This poem is the first-prize-winner in August challenge #1 on Young Poets Network (YPN) in 2017.

Judge Magnus Dixon commented, "This poem grabbed me from its first line— confiding and colloquial in tone, I felt as if I was being let into a secret by a friend.  However, the timescale soon slipped back, the gem of a word ‘hodgepodge’— rooted in middle English, taking me straight back into saxon times.  The church seems to be woven from the world around it— its bricks ‘mud red.’  Indeed, the church seems to be built from the semi-mythical England that lurks in the collective memory— one of hawthorn hedges, thatch, mud and oak.  

I love the spire ‘licked white like a lighthouse’— here the light invites worshippers and tourists, however, the next stanza sees the poem turn.  The church’s gate ‘creaks as if you’re breaking its heart.’  The church changes position drastically, it slips from being a beacon and centre of the natural world to being a building with in decay, in both status and structural integrity.  In the graveyard, one of the tombstones is ‘huddled by itself’ and you cannot help but feel that the tombstone, the church and, in a broader sense England, are like Russian dolls, tangled up in the same themes and contradictions.

I adore the final stanza, as it extends its scope, casting England itself as an edgeland; ‘a little wind battered island/ floating off some wider shore.’  What immediately drew me to this poem was its stunning and often very sensory imagery: I can smell the ‘wet and heavy wool’ and could feel the roughness of the trees that ‘line the walls blackly.’  However, the more I read the poem, the more the themes emerged from the density of imagery; themes of decay, isolation, and national identity and rereading the poem, I fell in love with it."
            [wpcf-rights-information] => 
            [wpcf-poem-award] => 1st prize, 2017 August challenge #1
            [wpcf_pr_belongs] => 
        )

    [poet_data] => stdClass Object
        (
            [ID] => 17080
            [forename] => 
            [surname] => 
            [title] => Francesca Weekes
            [slug] => francesca-weekes
            [content] => Francesca is a first-prize winner in the 2017 August challenge #1, themed around edgelands, and a winner in the 2016 Young Poets Network August Challenge #2. She is also highly commended in the Ways to be Wilder Poetry Challenge, in association with People Need Nature.
        )

)
stdClass Object
(
    [ID] => 17080
    [forename] => 
    [surname] => 
    [title] => Francesca Weekes
    [slug] => francesca-weekes
    [content] => Francesca is a first-prize winner in the 2017 August challenge #1, themed around edgelands, and a winner in the 2016 Young Poets Network August Challenge #2. She is also highly commended in the Ways to be Wilder Poetry Challenge, in association with People Need Nature.
)

A church on the edge of the world

Francesca Weekes

There’s this little church, looks a million years old,
lying on the edge of a wood which Robin Hood
and Marian probably wandered.

It’s hodgepodge, patchwork stuff:
trunks of trees, drawn from the forest,
line its walls blackly, and these are Saxon;

the brick is later, Tudor perhaps,
and mud-red as if freshly pulled from the kiln.
The tower, licked white like a lighthouse,

a light to guide approaching tourists:
here, religion lingers on.
When you push the gate aside

it creaks as if you’re breaking its heart.
Stepping into the churchyard,
you feel like you’ve come centuries late.

Gravestones lie, older than language, or almost,
because the words have been rubbed off
by rain, or magic. One is huddled by itself

near the door, remembering an old knight
who fought for a God that was still young.
Scuffed with reverence, it makes you think of

harsher times, when wool was wet and heavy
but all you had, and your shoes drowned in mud,
and England was a little wind-battered island

floating off some wider shore.