Richard Skelton is an artist, composer and publisher. He has written over seven books and thirty albums of music. Together with the Canadian poet Autumn Richardson, he runs Corbel Stone Press. The Cult Revived 1 is available from the Little Toller Bookshop. Beyond the Fell Wall, his monograph about the inanimate life of the Cumbrian uplands, is published by Little Toller Books.
The Fells Have Much Mask
North of the pale lowlands
basal forests, resin sheets.
North of oak, elm, ash
the sparse age of slowed pollen.
North of body counterparts
dark sites around wood moults.
North of the wild mention of deities
the holy history declines.
‘We are incomplete to describe the north’:
Indices of the boar
fluted pendants of the cult islands
small evidence of outer species.
Are these the bone communities
the women and men whose finders are burning?
The Alular Research
Along the thorax range
ungual ridges, dorsal forests –
the sudden ditch has birds
marginal flights, isle coverts.
Here is the feather of years
plumage sites, wing bedrock.
Cliffs report the osteology of flight:
‘hurled down the savage monster into the sea’
a northernmost evidence
a bracelet of talons.
Willow Commonest Plentiful
Salix of the four ways
———-proximal, distal, ventral, dorsal.
Salix of the grey clearance
———-birch episodes, alder hatchlings.
Salix of the dark central
———-the grow of cotton and water.
Salix of the floodplains
———-fen birds predict the elm decline.
Salix of the pale broad
———-feathers of bog disturbance.
Of the Man in the Moss
‘Black is the palest colour
———–boiled in milk, becoming lighter.
Dubh is made from yew compounds
———–sung over with nine masses.
Duß is the black and burn of it
———–the countenance of the first seest.
With an admixture of these three circle his neck
with it mark his head and chest, threefold.’
They buried him not dead but living
a seed of a corpse, a promise.
‘I have wreathed round the wounds
the best of healing’
The man in the moss will awake
These four new poems form part of a larger, ongoing body of work, The Cult Revived – a proposed ‘linguistic excavation of northern Britain’. The work is an attempt to syncretise material from varying disciplines, including archaeology, ecology, history, biology, geology and folklore, in order to create a new mythography of the north – a salvaging of its deep landscape history and an account of its flora, fauna and settlement by humans.