Writing Inspired by East Penrest


We have a scrap book in the barn, so we can share some of the lovely offerings our guests have made for us.

Here is a poem from one of my sisters

Dream Merchants

Can a dream be realised
for longer than a week or two?
Find it on the Internet -
make it true.

The barn conversion promises
[Saturday to Saturday]
memories of a working farm
to take-away.

Across the yard where chickens scratch,
the low stone farmhouse is restored
with new oak beams, uncovered

The model farm for perfect
holidays needs more than cows
sheep, kittens, Jess, the black and white
Welsh collie:

porcelain loos [handcrafted],
polished floors, Aga [oil-fired].
It needs a grit of thistles, mud,

Sheep have toe-nails to be clipped.
Jo sits struggling with a lamb.
'Don't want maggots. Risk of Foot-rot',
said the vet.

Buzzard mewling like a gull
floats above the sloping wood.
Brambles cleared to make a track
to the river bank

where Damselflies as green as silk
flicker over Meadowsweet
and clumps of Ragwort, golden bright
[poisonous in hay].

Children are well-catered for:
James has planned a covered space
For table tennis, climbing frame,
On rainy days.

'See the oak tree in that field?'
Jo says, 'He's built a platform.
When the harvest's in, he'll make
another storey.'

City money bought this dream
but what Jo and James possess
cannot be bought, though pedalled

Careful castle in the air
[smelling still of creosote]
anchored in this ancient oak,
womb of dreams.

Stroke the branch beside your head
thick with moss that's dry as fur,
child again inside this dome
of jagged green.

Some dreams can be realised.
Can the dreamers pass them on?
Spreading branches sway and sigh,

Christine Coleman 2/8/97




go to a few more of Christine Coleman's poems

Sketch from the Farmyard

by Thai Ker Liu

Dec 1997

This was a lovely gift left by one of our visitors.

East Penrest November 1998

Ghosts of cattle chew the dark.
Their quiet haunts the barn
with a silence thick as butter
to the purlins and the pegs.
Ruminant winds hum dreams into being -
dreams of hay and sweet water
and oaks near the river.
Down where the beasts lay
and steam rose in winter
from the straw and the dung
of their farmyard cathedral,
we stir as the moon
pours milk into the valley.

Jane Newton Chance .

These 2 poems were written by one of my brothers.

The Newcomers

From the road, a wisp of wood smoke betrayed the house, rough granite face,
sagging slate roof, set into the head of the Cornish valley.

The old farmhouse had waited for them.
Through granite posts guarding the gateway,
walking wide-eyed down the entrance drive,
and around the corner, they saw it:

The crouching house, climbing out of the hillside,
stared at them warily, stretched, door yawning.
A sad grey roof and weatherbeaten face,
ready to retire down into the rock.

Hopeful peasants hut, grown up and out
as children had grown up and died;
solid walls soaking up their lives,
and returning their care with comfort.

Breathing them in through the open door,
House closed in round the Newcomers.
"These will do, yes,this couple will do"
the chatter hummed through its fabric.

The creaking door closed silently,
the cold stone chimney drew strongly,
grate glowed and the rough walls warmed,
as old House prepared for a new life.


A Letter From Penrest, Cornwall.
From my diary. 16th September 1996

Down the track and past the spring that bubbles out the bank
into a trough of mossy stone, and splashing 'cross the ford.
Past a patch of king thistles and rushes, through oak trees
standing broad bold upright 'gainst the angle of the land.
Climbing higher to the corner of the topmost pasture,
underneath the shelter of the stone walled hedgerow.
There stripping clothes to lie upon, in the grassy meadow;
wild flowers are growing at my head, and dandelions below

The soft'ning heat of September sun soaks down into me.
A warm breeze rushles through the pasture, fingering
limbs and hair, and my taut body relaxes at its caress.
Out of my fingertips seeps the unwritten, the undone,
the unfelt kisses, unsaid words that made an iron band.
A spider scurries down my thigh, a dragonfly darts past.
A green grasshopper sounds crizc-crizc, in hiding near my head
And my mind floats far away with, the thistledown on the air.

Shading my tired eyes from the hot bright burning light,
I look through the foxtailed grass that brushes a too blue sky
with soft breeze blowen strokes. Overhead a buzzard falls
tumbling out the sun with finger-feathered wings aglow.
It wonders what dead meat might this naked body be,
sees movement, wheels up away. I soar aloft with it;
see my own supine self lying, white golden in the green;
soar higher yet and higher, on outstretch'ed wing of dream;

I see a past love playing, chain of daisies round her neck;
see long dead children dancing, in white smocks berry stained;
hear their laughter ringing loud, and the sounds of harvests gone:
click-clatter of the cutterbar, the rustle of the rake.
What soaring soul in time to come will look down on me in envy;
this moment's mine, the pasts sights and sounds, and as
the sweet warm nose of well made hay comes wafting up to me,
gliding on the wings of peace, Penrest sets my spirit free.

Way to the East is wild Dartmoor, its heights lost in the haze.
To the West rises the black plateau of cruel Bodmin Moor,
the moor of yore, King Arthur's knights and of Jamaica Inn,
edged by the crags of Twelve Men's Tor, Hawks Tor and Trewortha.
To the South the softly rounded hills of Kit and Caradon
rise beyond the belly of the green hedge-netted land,
up into which cuts the darker gash of the Trekenner gorge
that runs into the wooded vale of the River Inny by the ford.

The sun is lower now. The trees a fray`ed pattern make
of many shaded green. And on the far horizon rays
light red the old stone tower of the worked-out copper mine
that points in accusation at the sky; a reminder of
the hand-hewn shafts below. While tiny grazing cattle,
like lost toys, lay still shadows 'gainst the far off fields.
Pigeons race low home to roost, the peregrine looks for prey,
and a flight of crows flies black, across the cloudless sky.

NiC.28 Sept 96

Go to more of Nick's poems. Return to index