The Lady and the Hare

Talking last night of caravans and pilgrimage with Father Mark of Mettingham, I couldn’t avoid musing on the profound experience of our glorious midsummer pilgrimage to Pennant Melangell: peace and tranquility, the length of the midsummer sunset, the clear night-sky, the sound of bees in the morning, summer flowers… and above all, walking down the dark lane, opening the ancient church door and approaching St Melangell’s shrine clutching a single taper, and praying next to her relics.

That day and night were such a contrast to the past day and present night – wet and cold, weeks from midwinter – yet a little connection was made as I browsed in Oxfam bookshop before buying groceries.

Among the poetry books was a very obvious title – “The Lady and the Hare”, new and selected poems from Pauline Stainer – and within its pages the poem of that very title.

They would have you believe

she slept on bedrock

where ash roots the stone


that what startled silence

was not a buzzard mewing

but the huntsman’s horn unblown.


When the hounds

broke from their thicket

they froze at her calm


sensed in the cold apse

of her breast

both the dove and the bone.


Today we started no hare;

downstream of the waterfall

found only her shrine


and how sternly 

the warm hare is folded

inside her fierce gown.


Posted in Pilgrimage.