Poem ‘Weapon Take’

Weapon Take

No rusty blade
ever turns up here,
no shadow of a ship
or bejewelled belt;

no iconic helm
to add credence
to our wounded identity.
Not even signs

of a mystery hillock
rising in hugging mists
to excite or intrigue
those metal detector men.

Merely one vast industrial
scar, scoured of feature,
almost of life, tamed,
or destroyed,

depending on your view,
turned inside out
by Angevin priors
and inscrutable Dutchmen.

I come from a long
line of diggers
and dark-eyed women,
grown out of this morass,

hardened to sweat
and pitiless Ural winds.
People who made-do,
though never in

any doubt they
were the subjected
men of their Hundred,
the brave new Wapentake,

where the councillors
still speak in a
double-Dutch behind
tall, timbered walls.

poem and image © copyright dfbarker 2012
*poem first published in collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.

** Wapentake was the Danish word for the English Hundred (a small, political unit, originally meaning a hundred homes). This word is still used in the ‘Danelaw’ counties of eastern England.

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27 comments

  1. magsx2 · March 17, 2012

    Hi,
    A very deep poem, I read it a couple of times. Well done.

    Like

  2. Ina · March 17, 2012

    Hi David,

    The moment I saw the picture, I thought it was painted in The Netherlands, it could easily have been my country!

    What a great poem, a voice from those Medieval times. You take us into this history and make it pesonal with your own family roots. I love the way you mention the dark-eyed women.

    I had to look up inscrutable. 🙂
    In the tags I see “fenland” is that connected to Finland?

    Like

  3. Razel Rull-Navarro · March 17, 2012

    Love the image and poem 🙂

    Like

  4. dfb · March 17, 2012

    Hi Ina, I’m very grateful for your comments once again. Fenland is the general terms used in England for low-lying areas of former wetland, mainly a huge area of England from Cambridge to Lincoln. As I suggest, Dutch engineers like Vermuyden, played a large part in draining the vast area. My mother (a dark eyed woman!) used to describe the Dutch, who still have a strong influence here, as ‘inscrutable’! Perhaps all she meant was that they were hard to understand! 🙂
    Yes, I see you are interested in your own family history, as I am, and I see that the majority of English DNA still reflects those first settlers after the ice age, people from Spain, essentially strong, swarthy people with darker eyes and complexions, quite unlike the later Celts and Anglo-Saxons who were taller and fairer, who clearly didn’t settle here in a many numbers as we first thought, otherwise it would show in the DNA. Hope this make sense! Thank you once again, Ina.

    Like

  5. Cromwellsheart · March 17, 2012

    Lovely Sir. It describes my adopted home beautifully. After all, Danelaw, Cromwell and John Wesley to name a few great things that have sprung from the marsh.

    Truly you have a gift.

    Like

  6. jane tims · March 17, 2012

    Hi. Your painting could be here in New Brunswick along the Saint John River near Gagetown. I love the colors, especially the pink in the sky and the wind in the nearby grasses. Coincidentally, there is a fort in the Gagetown area that archaeologists have not been able to find although they know the approximate location. Your poem reminds me of this. We learned about ‘wapentake’ in my Viking history course… great resonance in the title of the poem. Jane

    Like

  7. dfb · March 17, 2012

    And I thank you kind Sir! Now, Wesley, there’s a fellow I’ve been meaning to find out more about.
    I struggle with religion. I love the incense and colour of catholicism, but am not so sure about the proliferation of saints (also colourful). I admire people like John Foxe, Wycliffe, William Tyndale, their message but I still feel, deep down, that something dreadful was lost with the destruction of the beauty of the monasteries and the colour stripped from the churches. I will never have true faith. 🙂

    Like

  8. dfb · March 17, 2012

    Thank you Jane! There are still ‘Norse-Danish’ words in the dying (probably dead!) Lincolnshire dialect. Some of them may have found their way over to NB.

    Like

  9. Cromwellsheart · March 17, 2012

    Wesley, one of my inspirations. I agree about the monasteries, I was brought up near Bolton Abbey and often dreamt how it would have been before Henry and that villain Thomas!

    Faith? It comes in many forms my friend, it has always been a large part of who I am so I do not crave for anything else. It has been tested, time and time again but held firm within me. It is a good place to be for it brings an inner peace and certainty.

    Like

  10. claudia · March 17, 2012

    nice…love the history lesson you’re giving us here, wrapped in a beautiful poem…sounds like a lovely spot of land…

    Like

  11. dfb · March 17, 2012

    Thank you Claudia!

    Like

  12. susanjanejones · March 17, 2012

    Lovely picture and a poem I would read over and over. Not because I don’t get it, simply because I like it.

    Like

  13. dfb · March 18, 2012

    Susan, thank you! You are very kind.

    Like

  14. dancingantelope · March 18, 2012

    I’ve been away for a bit but happy to return and see another of your glowing paintings. Glowing as in how your paintings emanate light from the canvas to screen to the viewer’s room is magic.

    Like

  15. dfb · March 18, 2012

    Thank you!!:)

    Like

  16. granbee · March 19, 2012

    Wonderful truth-telling poem about the woes of over-industrialization having wiped out the “days of yore” when the term danelaw was still literal!

    Like

  17. Lindy Lee · March 20, 2012

    “Do as much as you can for as many as you can for as long as you can.”
    John Wesley

    Like

  18. luciasnordamned · March 20, 2012

    so wonderful and peaceful…..with an enigma of trance.
    baffled by the use of diction in a manner isolating the world or the place created from the rest of the universe of mankind

    Like

  19. lizardology · March 20, 2012

    Absolutely beautiful. Brimming with culture, history and art you have really created a masterpiece here.

    A thoroughly good read 🙂

    Like

  20. dfb · March 20, 2012

    Thank you Granbee! You know, my grandmother used to say to me ‘we are Danes!’ – well, we were English, of course, but she wasn’t wrong, either!

    Like

  21. dfb · March 20, 2012

    Great quote – thank you Lindy!

    Like

  22. dfb · March 20, 2012

    Oh, thank you very much! I really appreciate your comments.

    Like

  23. dfb · March 20, 2012

    Thank you very much!

    Like

  24. Explorations in Sacred Space · March 20, 2012

    The scent of times past that still wafts in the breeze. Excuisite.

    Jamie Dedes

    Like

  25. dfb · March 20, 2012

    Thanks once again Jamie

    Like

  26. bardessdmdenton · March 22, 2012

    I love the strong ancient feel of this and beautiful artwork as usual!

    Like

  27. dfb · March 22, 2012

    Thank you very much indeed!

    Like

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