Poetry connected with Binsted
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
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
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
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
This house of God.