Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Alone by Standing Stones


I’d anticipated more.
More mystery, more magic,
Or, some secret sign to have endured
The silent witness of these standing stones.
Hoping, that some remnant of intention
Had remained;
Revealing early windows
Which Earth’s lost light could pierce
To clear my opaque eyes.

Instead, I saw quite clearly
The tool marks of dead men,
Their crude labour over-scored
With careless carving from a modern hand.

“Sue sucks cocks for 50p
Phone 9573
Come in the mouth of ecstasy”

And there was me;
My squat thought wanting inspiration.

© James Rainsford 2011

Note to readers:
This was written after I'd discovered a neolithic stone circle in a hidden Welsh valley, when I was out on a solitary walk hoping to escape the crude insensitivity which sometimes characterises our modern world. I copied the quote above and wrote this poem the same evening. I hope some part of my disillusion resonates with those, who also desire enlightenment.
Your opinions are very welcome. Just click on the comments tab below. 

Posted as my contribution to One Shot Wednesday @ One Stop Poetry 11th May 2011


  1. have summed up, what for me, is my biggest fear. I dream of visiting so many sacred places, spots of inspiration and enlightment, and I so fear of the disappointment that comes with the attainment of that that has been coveted for so long. We, I think, are a blanket society that is so addicted to the instant gratification, that we are comfortable desecrating that that was once so cherished. Your quote sums it up. To think that someone could take their kicks by smearing the purity of the place with our oh so human failings. what a wonderful world :(

  2. I remember having the same ambivalent feelings when I visited Stonehenge many years ago. Apparently the public can't go right up to the stones anymore because of the destructive work of hoodlums. It seems like man must destroy everything in his path, even ancient landmarks. Thank you for highlighting this sorrow James.

  3. ha. sorry it made me laugh a bit...maybe to keep from crying...these sacred spaces reduced to ordinary in the hands of man...happens far too often...great write...

  4. For some inexplicable reason, there are those who feel that any public place is an opportunity for self gratification! To ignore the sacred essence of a public place is to deny that same entity within! So very sad!

    As for illumination - often I find that it is most accessible when I don't try so hard to seek it!

  5. I guess you can take comfort in knowing if there was anything handy around to scrawl on when the great Henge was being built, the builders probably scrawled something quite similar on it--humanity doesn't change much, and some things remain, er...seminal. I like the simplicity of this one, and the contrast of the man in the suit leaning on the ancient stone.

  6. Swift said that you can always tell a true genius because they will be the one surrounded by a confederacy of dunces trying to drag them down. Perhaps the same is true of special places? It is wearying, and you've captured that well.

  7. It always feels weird when ugliness of modern life encroaches on what's left of ancient civilizations. You've captured this ludicrousness beautifully.

  8. Man will leave his mark, in one way or another: with an ancient stone to inspire awe, or crude words to render antiquity meaningless.

  9. :( It is atrocious to see such senseless things put upon such vibrant pieces of history...when the modern literally ingrains itself upon the past and defaces a gift we should all embrace...ugh. Aggravates me. Severely. The ancient made ordinary...good look at the ludicrous nature of the world.

  10. I hate when "people" do things like that, desecrating something wonderful. Your poem is fantastic, unfortunately it reveals a fact of pure juvenile ignorance.

  11. How sad - the mystery of the moment blown wonder everything has become so guarded as we have to guard our own self..there is always someone wanting to desecrate anything that appears to have meaning...bkm

  12. I was kept from stonehenge as it was fenced off when I was there. My camera got closer than I did and the pictures caught the thing I missed. The day was glorious and I spent my energy surveying what isn't in the pictures, the green mounds in the distance. Yes, grafitti is everywhere. I was ashamed coming in to Rome to see it on the sides of all buildings; but in "central Rome", it was minimal and cleaned up quickly. I think I came as close to finding what you were looking for in Bath where I felt I really was walking among ghosts from Roman centurions to Jane Austen. I have experienced the mystical and surreal. Sometimes where I sought it and sometimes unexpectedly. Enjoyed your piece. It says a lot about our times. Thanks, Gay

  13. At once cheeky funny and indescribably sad. Excellent work.

  14. James,

    Fantastic poem! Having recently visited two stone circles I can relate to this very well.

    Rather like looking down the Avon Gorge from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, only to see the graffiti...

    Thanks for sharing :)

  15. wow-- no holds barred here. There are such icky people in the world. But perhaps not elsewhere. xxxj

  16. I can't wrap my head around WHY people do such things. I did visit a famous public cemetery with lots of statues in Savannah GA and I was to surprised to find it graffiti free. Loved your poem and the irony in it.

  17. Your poem reminded me of the part in "Catcher in the Rye" where Holden keeps finding "fuck you" scrawled in his old school and on the wall of the museum. He imagines that when he dies, someone will write "fuck you" on his tombstone. As this was one of my favorite books, obviously I loved your poem.

  18. That graffiti can't take away from your poem. It cuts into it...

    Stones do tell a tale. It is on us to read and decipher those...

  19. sad,
    the image is cool, vivid pinpoint of your view.

    check out short story slam today. hope to see your participation.


If you wish your views and opinions to be published here, please be polite and respectful. I welcome feedback on my work and will try to respond if you take the trouble to post a comment. Thanks for visiting 'The Sanctum of Sanity.' Hope you enjoyed the experience, James.