Acylic painting by Candia Dixon-Stuart
(Photo: Ballista: Wikipaedia)
Great Coxwell’s Barn
Off Hollow Way stands this vast, vacant barn:
huge receptacle for Cistercian tithes,
garnered from tenant farmers – a dry store,
where the granger checked accounts; did not trust
his hired servants. Here Cotswold riches
were protected from thieves and from decay.
Christ had warned disciples about decay
and storing up of surplus in a barn.
Christians were always meant to share riches
and not to extract profit from fat tithes.
The parable’s ‘fool’ was he whose whole trust
was in possessions. He had wrath in store.
Henry VIII would plunder a marked store
and most abbeys were subject to decay.
Monastic wealth was held in deep distrust.
Though Morris praised this cathedral-like barn,
Pre-Raphaelites would not restore tithes;
they venerated aesthetic riches.
We coveted colonial riches
and viewed the whole world as potential store,
compelling other countries to pay tithes;
forgetting moth and rust would cause decay.
What were the treasures we stored in our barn?
We’ll reap what we sowed: we abused faith, trust.
Joseph, in whom Pharoah had put his trust,
managed underground silos of riches
and, when his brothers came – not to a barn-
but to the pits where corn was kept in store,
did they recall they’d left him to decay
in such a space? (He who asked no tithes.)
This massive hulk, once packed with peasant tithes,
now supported by The National Trust,
mouldered with neglect; died of decay,
until ‘heritage’ was seen as riches.
What are the values we would like to store?
Should we maintain the past? Convert the barn?
Some build barns with their family riches,
but tithes benefited community,
as long as mutual trust did not decay.
(The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere
by Julia Margaret Cameron)
Since I live in the vicinity of Kelmscott now, here is an
old poem, re-blogged…
I raised a latch of a door in the wall
and immediately knew this was home.
The garden’s rosy superabundance
was a mille-fleurs embroidery stitching
raucous cawing of rooks from those high elms, the
swifts wheeling, doves’ cooing and blackbird song.
A mulberry tree was central. Pastel
hollyhocks nodded their welcome and men
scythed reeds and floated them down the river
under the willow trees’ gray-green flickers.
Lead waterspouts were limply supported
from the mellow masonry and woodworm
pricked the panelling. I felt not sadness,
but a beauty born of melancholy.
Leaving my charcoal overcoat downstairs,
I inspected the quaint garrets where once
tillers and herdsmen slept under the eaves.
The sloping floorboards creaked under my feet.
I realised she had never loved me.
How could she? Women are all shape-changers.
This house is an E with its tongue cut out,
so it will never prattle its scandal.
Betrayal’s woven in its tapestries:
Samson with his eyes gouged out for his love.
Please, dear Janey, be happy…I cannot
paint you, but I love you – and now leave you.
Some called it amitie amoureuse.
They dubbed me Guenevere, La Belle Iseult.
Once in this lost riverland, out of depth,
we drowned in our adulterous passion.
I heard carriages arriving at night,
so the cob’s harsh hooves had to be silenced
by leather shoes. I had no energy
when William was here, but took long walks
with Gabriel, who said our leaky punt
was not a poetic locomotion.
I keep my thoughts locked in my casket
in my bedroom. It was kind of Topsy
to bring me back that fine Icelandic smock.
Gabriel said it served his purposes well.
When they had Mouse the babes were not tiresome,
but Jenny’s impairment grows every day.
Tomorrow someone must trim the dragon.
In the studio I hear faint crying
over a stillborn child. He took chloral,
alcohol and would stay awake till five.
What was I to do with his exhumed verse?
Sir Lancelot had welded us as one.
I suppose I never loved him at all.
Tonight I left a pansy in Blunt’s room.
I am past sobbing that he does not come.