I am faced with a new and unexpected inspiration


Being the Manx Bard brought me to be confronted with new and unexpected poetic inspirations.

I was recently asked to write a poem for Cathedrals at Night, a celebration of cathedrals across Europe, encouraging people who may never have been there (like me!) to come in, see the buildings and experience something.

Alongside Manx Youth Bard Iva, I was very kindly offered a guided tour one evening in April to inspire me.

There, inside the cathedral and its grounds, I ended up writing notes, then lines, then excerpts, many of which became part of the final piece.

I know many creative colleagues will recognize this problem: when I write, my main problem is not getting words onto a page, but deleting them.

I have so many thoughts overflowing from me and it’s hard work to figure out which ones are worth keeping.

It was particularly difficult with this poem.

Therefore, I would like to thank my fabulous friend Georgia Lisette and my wonderful mother Ros, both poets, for giving me their input on the editing process.

Although there were hundreds of detailed references I could have put into this poem, I ended up focusing on genuine, implied sentiment rather than detailed, factual description.

Ultimately, the words present a rounded view of my night in the cathedral: simply, what I saw and heard and how it made me feel.

I hope the result will speak for itself.

Finally, I feel compelled to pass on, via Georgia, that the Manx cat mentioned in stanza eight has a Facebook group dedicated to him: ‘The Adventures of Baskin’.

Oh, how I love the Isle of Man!

Hush: Peel Cathedral at night

Periwinkle fading through the ironclad windows up high

Further down the eye line panes are almost black

A striking match, a burning stick

Soothing yellow candle flames

Reflective, refracting on molded stained glass

Lift a cheek, a shoulder, the edges of an opal green dress

Evoking usually invisible highlights

How high must a roof be to become a vehicle of prayer?

What rays, if any, can reach God?

Green and purple ribbons flutter from a shiny wreath

Trembling like the wings of a white dove

The petals of a blood red poppy

Now tonight this echoing hall is lit from below, instead of above

Light shines up and down, instead of in and down

Dare to be heard above such a heavy silence

Old dark wooden benches sway awkwardly

The chime from a quarter to

I move outside, to watch the birds come and go from the rafters

Here, the stained glass indeed shines from within

Candlelight casts the colors of the sunset

Long after the day has fallen

The mists scream around the bare stone walls

Coating the aisles in a cold, damp mist

Yellow street lamp nearby

A Manx cat greets us cautiously

Open and thoughtful hearts throb

labyrinthine meditation

Orchards, herb gardens, tributes, memorials

These winding alleys write a love letter

I look up as I walk down the aisle

I’m lost in towering wooden beams

They move incongruously around each other

I feel a sudden surge of power

A desire to run the stone steps

And scream from the pulpit

Climb an incredibly thin synthetic white ribbon

Stacking chairs on shiny tiled floor

Only disturbed by the almost inaudible scratching of the pen on the parchment

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