Dove Cottage

by J.J. Williamson
PenShells
, February 2016
Judged by Lee Slonimsky


When I first climbed the slopes of Loughrigg Fell
to trace the spring of old Romantic blood,
I knew I’d fallen under Wordsworth’s spell,
enslaved to nameless becks and blue bell woods.

I watched a cloud drift over Silver How
and listened to the wind through copper beech,
remembered why I’d walked to Grasmere brow,
then paused for thought outside St Oswald’s church.

Wild flowers thrive and bloom near lakeland’s bard,
they weave a coloured path to where he lies
and there I stood, alone, beside the crowd,
with daffodils and graves before my eyes.

Now every time I pass his garden gate,
I think of silent tombs and streams in spate.


This wistful and musical sonnet adroitly conveys both the geography and spirit of Wordsworth’s extraordinary poetry. The perfect iambic rhythm and deft originality of rhymes both straight (“How/brow”) and slant (“bard/crowd”), combine with simple but evocative images (“…the wind through copper beech…”) to take the reader straight back into the Romantic period. No magical tricks or intense ambiguity here: just colorful and creative language in a tradition that has survived for centuries. --Lee Slonimsky

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