Poem -

Solstice Woods

Solstice Woods

The spirits of the Bodgers
walk the solstice woods.
At sunrise.
Sidelight sun on skeletal branches.
Hoarfrost on finger bone twigs.
Sparkling.
All still held in the Horned God's thrall.

Awaiting Her return.

The spirits start to gather
by old saw pits and beech stand dells.
Underdogs and Top-dogs and the Bodgers.
Back in the place they love.
Where they worked and lived.
Where they became the land.

They gather to see Her return.
Witness' to her start the dance.
Dancing through the sapling beech.

Spirits fade with the next days birth.
Satisfied that the turning wood
will be healthy and green.

AN EXPLANATION:-
My town, High Wycombe, is known as the home of English craftsman furniture. It all starts in the woods that surround us. Craftsmen, wood turners, would buy a stand of new growth beech form the land owner and, in season would live in the woods turning thousands of legs and braces for Windsor chairs. For unknown reasons they became known as Bodgers. Later in the 19th century when steam engines were small enough saw pits were dug and framed saw mills built in the pit. They took two people to work, the Underdog made sure the blade cut true and the Top-dogs who were in charge. The dog, of course is the log they were cutting. They all chose to live in the woods and you can still feel them there.
This poem is my first (and probably my only) municipal commission. My local district councillor contacted me and asked if I could write and perform the piece for the winter solstice. Brief ; reflect our connection with the woods and our history. I agreed in a shot and am only just realising that means reading poetry in a wood at 7am on the 22nd December. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr.
 

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Comments

author
Marion Price

Beautiful..informative and haunting ūüĆĻ

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author
Nigel Cresswell

Thanks Marion, 
I have always loved the woods that surround me and to be asked to do this is such an honour. As a child I sort of knew the last of the Bodgers. I feel them in the woods. 
As I have to perform this I will practice and I might post it again with spoken word. 
My woods are beautiful and haunting. 
Thanks again 
Nigel 

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author
Cherie Sumner-Taylor

Hi Nigel.  What a very cool bit of history.  That is amazing that the loggers would live in the woods to perfect their craft and make beautiful furniture.  Now, that is dedication!  Lol  Wonderful elegy and what an honor that you were asked to write this for winter solstice by the local district counselor.  So original!  I enjoyed learning a bit about High  Wycombe...your town.  xo ;) 

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author
Nigel Cresswell

Hi Cherie, 
It's a bit strange but I was asked to do this about lunch time and it was like the poem had always been there. Just flowed. 
I feel honoured but I've just ordered lots of thermal underwear. 
Nigel 

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author
RRG (Rebecca)

Wow Nigel what an honor. :) 
The history is fascinating. Something has been lost in the advancement of manufacturing and commercialization of our world. Craftsmen are the real artists in my opinion. The old ways are tried and true. Beautiful tribute. 
I'll be sending warm thoughts to keep you from freezing lol, but I live in a cold area myself. Thermal and flannel work really well at keeping the blood flow open. :) 
Blessings. 
Rebecca

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author
Nigel Cresswell

Thank you Rebecca,
The way the conversation has developed over the day means that we might be building a Bodgers branch hut which I will stay in the solstice night (wearing thermals, thermal mountaineering socks and wearing period looking clothes of thick wool). When the audience walk through the woods to the clearing I will have the fire pit burning and be ready to tell tales. Daunting but, by definition, I will be touching wood. 
Blessed be Rebecca, 
Nigel 

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author
lodigiana

What a fabulous way to reconnect with your local history and what an interesting story this is..i dont envy you having to read this on what might be a really cold morning..but maybe it will be one of those lovely, bright, crisp beautiful mornings! I hope so ..lovely piece Nigel and thank you for sharing the story. Lodigiana xx

Reply
author
Nigel Cresswell

Thanks Lady Lodigiana. I just hope for a good sunrise and a bit of drama for the readings. I have till December to write a few more themed pieces. I really love those woods and I am really looking forward to it. 
Thanks again 
Nigel 

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