Elemental Norfolk

I wrote this poem a number of years ago, after we started spending a couple of weeks over the turn of the year in England. It was one of my first published works.


Lane and common, heath and ploughed ground

Lie frozen underfoot. The lands

Decline to the sea: downland and saltmarsh

Diked and ditched by countless hands

Against the sea and winter floods.

Beyond the marshes, the named sands

Will rise and fall with the tide.


Skiff and windpump, sails of cloth and wood,

Are battened down and still. The gust

Strikes salt and icy; harness and rigging,

Tarred and treated for rot and rust,

Await the end of winter’s gales.

Above the marshes, the wind’s cold blast

Will rise and fall with the sun.


House and cottage, farm and village row

Sit tightly closed and warm. Fire

Kindles in the hearths; desire and habit

Pruned and piled the garden pyre

Against the night and winter’s end.

Beside the marshes, the year’s bonfire

Will rise and fall with the wind.


Stream and river, pond and open broad,

Wait silently for spring. The snow

Bleaches all colour; hedgerow and reedbed,

Trimmed and tight in winter’s throe,

Withstand the wind and killing frost.

Within the marshes, the water’s flow

Will rise and fall with the moon.

© Marian L Thorpe

Image: John Crome, Moonlight on the Yare, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Original in the National Gallery, London.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s