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      Click here for the 2018 Poetry Competition page



      Click here to read about the 2017 Binsted Arts Festival Poetry Competition



      Poems from the 2016 Binsted Arts Festival Poetry Competition

      Click here to read 11 winning and commended entries out of the 216 submitted on the theme 'A Way through the Woods'.


      Poets and poems connected with Binsted's artistic Wishart family

      Laurie Lee's times in Binsted contributed to his sense of having visited a lost paradise, which he recreates in many of his writings. This poem reflects his experiences – recorded in his diary - of spending time in Binsted Woods together with his lover, Lorna Wishart, during the aerial bombardment of 18 August 1940:  

      Laurie Lee's ‘Song in August’, 1940 Quoted in Valerie Grove, The Life and
      Loves of Laurie Lee
      , Robson Press, 2014

      Pondering your scented skull
      I seek its antique song of peace:
      Desires uncovered by your tide
      Are trembling reeds with sea-blue voices.

      I wind my hands around your head
      And blow the hollow flutes of love,
      But anger sprouts among the leaves
      And fields grow sharp with war.

      Wheat bleeds upon a wind of steel
      And ivy splits the poisoned sky,
      While wasps that cannot fertilise
      Dive at the open flowers of men.

      Your lips are turreted with guns,
      And bullets crack across your kiss,
      And death slides down upon a string
      To rape the heart of our horizon.


      Several poets are connected with one of Lorna's children Michael Wishart.  Michael was born in Binsted and grew up painting its landscape and loving its people and its secret places.

      One of these is:   Annie Freud


      Home-grown poems inspired by Binsted's ancient church

      Hubert Roberts, churchwarden of Binsted Church from the 1970s to the 1990s, wrote the following poem which hangs on the wall in the church:

      A Village Church is Born - poem in Binsted Church


      A Village Church is Born

      Hubert Roberts

      An empty field where children came
      To make their daisy chains
      While monks and peasants planned a church
      In praise of Jesu’s name.

      From forest brakes the children came
      Young withies in their hands
      Soon intertwined in earthen walls:
      A shrine for Jesu’s name.

      One windless day the children came
      And handed up the reeds
      To thatchers plying ancient craft
      For love of Jesu’s name.

      In God’s good time the children came
      And touched the Bishop’s hand
      Who signed the cross to sanctify
      In gentle Jesu’s name.

      Then down the years the children came
      To kneel in simple prayer,
      With priest and all the villagers
      Invoking Jesu’s name.

      To such a church the children came
      Long centuries ago
      And still a sweetness lingers there
      Of peace in Jesu’s name.


      This timeless, ideal, repetitive vision – nothing about wars of religion, earning a living, or what most children would rather be doing during church services – has some truth in it; the church was probably once thatched.    And a ‘sweetness of peace’ is something many people have felt in Binsted.   

      This is another response by someone involved with looking after Binsted Church.  The Right Reverend Michael Langrish, a retired Bishop living in Walberton, regularly attends and sometimes officiates at Binsted Church services.

      Christmas in Binsted Church

      (c) Michael Langrish 2015

      Behind the fresh cut spruce,
      Hung with gaudy brightness,
      Flaking plaster reveals
      Another tree
      Formed by ancient fingers
      From earthy pigments
      In the damp lime.

      Dulled but not dimmed,
      Trinity of branches testifying
      To an old yet young mystery
      Steadfast mercy in crafted crale –
      On which the nearby Virgin
      From generation to generation
      Casts anxious, hopeful eye.
      While on the altar
      The wood of the cross
      Completes this trinity of trees.
      All around, as each soft snowflake falls,
      I hear the echo of years and prayers
      Settling and unsettling
      ‚ÄčThis house of God.



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