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This is the official website of St Clether Holy Well Chapel.

The chapel is a privately owned and maintained non-denominational Grade 2 listed building

It is situated about 1/3 mile (walk) from St. Clether parish church which is signposted from the A395

NGR SX202846

LAT.   50:37:55

LONG. 04:32:40

 

Poetry Day at St Clether Holy Well, 6th August, 2008
 

     The well is a wonderful image to use in a writing workshop - to be able to write and reflect around a real well was very special. August 2008 has been one of the wettest on record but this didn't deter a group of twelve writers from assembling at St Clether's Parish Church for a walk of around half a mile to the Holy Well.

     We began by reflecting on a poem by Wendell Berry in which he talks about the little words that come from silence.  We then went, in silence, down to the well and everyone wrote out of that space. We shared, sitting outside on blankets and benches, with the wind rustling the ashtrees and the River Inny flowing behind us. Vanda then told us some of the history of this beautiful, sacred space which she cares for so sensitively.

     The second piece of writing was stimulated by Seamus Heaney's 'A Personal Helicon' in which he describes finding inspiration looking into a well in his childhood.  We looked for and wrote about our personal sources of inspiration around the well. We then moved into the chapel for a final piece of writing, this time after reading Denise Levertov's poem 'The Fountain' and her line - 'It is still there and always there'.

     Lunch on the grass and then afterwards, Dorothy led us in a ceremony for Lammas.  Lammas is a festival also known as 'loaf-mass' when traditionally people brought bread baked with the first harvested wheat to church.  It has its roots in the Celtic quarter-festival of Lughnasa. We reflected on various 'harvests' in our lives. The day closed with readings of some of our favourite poems and then as we walked back up along the grassy path to the road, the rain came in.
 
   We will have another writing day at the Holy Well on Saturday 6th August 2009 - bookings and enquiries to
info@falpublications.co.uk

     Victoria Field
 

...............................................................................

Below are a selection of poems written on the day.
...............................................................................

Jenny Alexander

Frog

Yellow one-year frog with tiger legs
Leaping in watery grass
Now in the air, now in the depths
Now flying, now fighting through fronds
My father’s familiar from muddy Mitcham ponds
He dipped in black-and-white days, sepia-toned
My mother’s mantle, now that my father has gone

At the moment of asking, ‘Where is my muse?’
My daughter sees his flicker and gleam
She cups her hands. He lands
Cool droplet on the skin between
My right-hand knuckles of finger and thumb
The very place my pen will rest
My pink sleeve lights a delicate line
Along his shiny yellow flank
He is himself and he is mine


Always There

It is still there and always there
Every thing you have ever seen
Every place you have ever been
And in between, the no-thing and no-where
Always there.

It is still there and always there
Every one you have ever loved
Every day you have ever lived
And in between, the no-one and the never
Always there.

It is still there and always there
Every sound you have ever heard
Every self-creating word
And then the void, the soundless and the selfless
Always there.
.
..................................

Rosie Alexander

At St Clether

It would be easy to mistake this for some pleasant
pastoral scene, the lowing cattle, the waist-high
grass and the soft summery air that wraps my skin.

It would be easy to lie here and let the sounds of water
run bubbling over my mind, to let every thought
be rubbed smooth as a stream-washed pebble

It would be easy to lie here and sleep,
to let the world take me back into itself like the
blackening leaves that lie fronding into the mud

It would be easy to miss myself here

Instead I pick out the sharp animal tang
of the broken backed bracken; I tense each hair
on my head to draw in the breezing air;
I look for the small things - the shard
of broken grass and the beetle carcass
that lies at my feet as neat as a shelled nut

And I know that I've been here before.
But everything is different now


My Muse

I always thought that my affinity was with insects
not the pretty butterfly type but the kind that you dig
out with gritted fingernails, like the red-bulbed centipedes
which fell from the crumbling soil of my childhood
blinking into bright boiling light. Their spiking legs
that grasped at the ground would make most girls scream.

So oh, what a surprise today that no creepy crawly
appears, and instead the leap of the frog calls me to him.
He calls; then he stops dead still as if he's cried “Here I am!
(don't look)” like some coy child - just to make me peel
away the lines of grass and let my eyes run over his skin,
which lies clear as a fine silk over his arching back
and falls into a neat orange trim along his hips and waist.

I watch him and he watches me. I try to catch him
and he jumps from the cup of my hands.
I try to shepherd him back and he leaps free.

But just as I'm about to go he lands on the back
of my hand, skin on skin, and settles there with me.
More my equal than any centipede, beetle or bee.


It is Still There and Always There

It is still there and always there
your voice echoing through my life -
exact words forgotten, it is more a sense
of being held by the rhythms of your mind
A shadow of a phrase or saying
that sings through my lines.
...........................................


Dorothy Coventon

Spirit of water.

Dear St. Clether and your brothers
only one can be the prince,
left your homeland and your people
you have been here ever since.
Built a cell with granite alter
over crystal water springs,
found a refuge here in Cornwall
where the Cornish worshipped streams,
taught them all your Holy orders
saw your Celtic home in dreams.

Sanctus   

In the light that sometimes falters
see your altar made of stone,
spirit and the water table
reach down for their bedrock home.
Through your bones the water’s flowing
drinking in your saintly cells,
as I drink you speak in whispers
watery grave peeled back by bells.
On a soft breeze, sound of vespers,
prayers for kings and Holy Wells.

Sanctus                                                                             

Coloured glass will never hold us
not like nails into a tree.
Names on grave stones Thomas, William,
Florence follows Emma, see
bracken footprints on the damp earth
Cornish mist won’t let them be,
holds St Clether on the water
threads him on a ringing bell
finds a Mother and a Daughter
cupped together by the well.

Sanctus 

we can feel you still here with us
resting in the water’s flow
baptised daily by the Granite
from its bedrock place below
we twelve placed ourselves in silence
passed a tree, too full, to show
all the greens outside the pallete    
bouncing greyness off the day
on the prickles of a thistle
on its purple underlay

Sanctus 

then a foxglove stood before me
told me things to stop the heart
ballads about Celts and Christians
how the Well had played a part
breaking bread, Communion, Lammas
how we twelve had found the place
how we had our own Communion
with St. Clether and his Grace
throwing stones into the water
planting seeds to hope and faith

Sanctus 

Now I’m walking bracken pathways
wondering how we came to be
baptised into Crucifixion,
on remembering I see
all the Saints and Kings of Cornwall
each one has his holy Grail,
like the farmer calling lambs home
praying that he didn’t fail.
Damp mist settled all around me
blessed my presence calm and still.

Sanctus

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