Mapping memories

Brean where dreams were first ingrained.
In sea sodden sand, mud at low tide and a hill of sorts
chasing down dragons amongst Brythonic dunes.

At  Men Ebeli, once the stone of colts
we cleared Cornubian outcrops like foals
footprints fading faster than the rolling tongue
could murmur: Menabilly.
But the pools stayed, almost still, broad kelp
shielding shrimp and jelly blob abominations.
And up in the grass at Grybyn Head 
lolling topsy-turvy as gulls, arms akimbo
till a wasp sting felled me to earth. 

Ancient Britons found a stronghold by the alder grove
taken in turns by Celt and Jute - Romans called it
Cantiacorum, Kent's cathedral city in England's Eden.
Knee-capped in snow or petal blossom
hedge stretched with nests and pine tree pinnacles
to almost grasp the feathered flypasts.
Mid-August orchards ripened with plums, 
goblet-shaped for gobblers, and early apples
pitted by worm, tooth marked too, 
trialling sweetness.

One skip and hop from this Pilgrim orb, salty bays
splayed out north and east. From shingled Hyrne
to Sondwic with ample sand to grit crab teas
on the softest buttered bread. 

Marble-mouthed and staccato sharp the Anglo-Saxon tongue
and stepping after Nor'folk we wended there
to Esnuterle, to mudflat solitude and colonies of seal.
Honeymooned at Hitchham where wild duck hunters
greased their guns and grapeshot from the ripening gorse
was fired in hot Septembers.

Heart leapt to the blast of horn in Suttun Hoh.
settling my soul on the Deben's southern bank
at Wudubrycg, like a pre-loved houseboat.
Sinking with dignified decay and contentment
in the creek; there long-legged waders
pipe to the wind, that's always heading west.

Brean – modern Welsh for a hill

Men Ebeli = Menabilly. Cornish/Celtic for stone of colts

Grybyn Head = Gribbin Head – derived from Cornish/Celtic for little ridge

Cantiacorum = Canterbury

Hyrne= Herne bay – old English for’ a corner’

Sondwic=Sandwich – Anglo-Saxon for ‘market town on sandy soil’

Esnuterle – renamed Blakeney when John de Blakeney was gifted the manor there in 13th century

Hitcham=Heacham – from the river Hitch +ham/home

Suttun Hoh = Sutton Hoo -from Old English: “Sut” + “tun” means “settlement,” and “hoh” translates to “shaped like a heel spur.”

Wudubrycg – old English for Woodbridge ?Woden (Odin) and Burgh, Bury, or Brigg (town). 

Joining Open Link Night where unprompted, anything goes. Reworking this poem of ancient English place names mapped with memories which is dedicated to fellow poet and dVerser Glenn Buttkus (d. 17.2.23)- his first name is of Celtic origin, meaning from the valley. I pray he has found peace there.

23 thoughts on “Mapping memories

  1. This is exquisitely woven, Laura! Such a fine tribute to Glenn! I especially love this part; “One skip and hop from this Pilgrim orb, salty bays splayed out north and east. From shingled Hyrne to Sondwic with ample sand to grit crab teas on the softest buttered bread.” ❤️❤️❤️

    1. thanks Sanaa – there is much meaning in place names as well as in our own names which perhaps influence us more than we know. I wonder if it did Glenn.

  2. As Sanna wrote….this is woven….and I feel as if you’ve taken me on a journey with your words. Beautiful.

  3. I was reading this in an Irish setting before I saw the word Celt. It reads like an awakened spell cast in time.

  4. What powerful stories you gave to those names and places Laura. I am in awe. Appreciate the notes on the side of your verses.

    1. thank you Grace – I kept the original names just to touch on some of that power and magic that the ancients knew (and both Lewis and Tolkein brought back to our consciousness). The notes show how over time the old language morphs into what we say today –

  5. Past my pace. But then, I’m easily confused. However could wish to apply to the wounds in my country now, albeit a false rendering to obscure the real archaic meanings meant. But of you, nothing but appreciation is my language.

    1. a pace of history the world over, one tribe ousting another and leaving their mark in names and genetics which in this somewhat old country we can still touch. And since this touches on etymology I thought you might appreciate what your appreciation implies:
      “in used from 1650s, “to esteem or value highly,” from Late Latin appretiatus, past participle of appretiare “to set a price to,” from ad “to” (see ad-) + pretium “price” (see price (n.)). The meaning “to rise in value” (intransitive) is by 1787; the sense of “be fully conscious of” is by 1833″
      Even meanings move at a pace!

  6. The flow of place and time, like a river, and language, too, picking up and discarding. . .Your first stanza is particularly lovely. A beautiful tribute.

  7. Wonderful Laura. Glenn was a special force unto himself — strong, raw yet refined, unfiltered, real, and wholly irreplaceable. I truly feel the chasm he has left. Certainly I, and I believe dVerse as well, will be less without his unique view of the world. Won’t be quite the same again.

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