The Gathering – dedicated to Granville James

I have a friend and neighbour, John, who is a sheep farmer, with a flock on Carningli. His family have lived there for many years.

From time to time I adopt my temporary guise as #theoccasionalshepherd and help him with sheep related duties. For me, it is one of the greatest pleasures of living here in Newport, Pembrokeshire.

Two or three times a year a group of local people, often graced with the presence of Anwen and Chris, help John,and his sister, Aeres , to gather the sheep off the mountainside.  Until this spring we also always had Aeres’ husband, Granville, with his ever gracious smile, care and concern for all, and delight in the mountain and all it’s ways.

Sadly (an understatement if ever there was) Granville died in May this year. This poem is for him, for Aeres, Anwen, John and Chris,  and for all who help out this delightful family. It comes with love.

 

The Gathering

We are walking the old ways

Bracken snatching at our heels

Stone stumbling across the narrow tracks

The sun on our backs

Feet sinking occasionally in rushwards marsh

Sticks swishing bramble, as we make the pass

Larks rising abundant, trilling

A red kite patrolling the sun split skies

Crows flap, unwilling, it’s all a bore

Quite sure, they’ve seen this all before.

 

Is that a rock, recumbent?

Or a ewe, two lambed

Blue hooped, bread rolled, sometimes sooty from burnt gorse

Woolly marshamallowed, on matchstick legs

Stirring grumpily from a sleepy hollow

Answering the call

Her Master’s Voice

As John whistles, shouts, limbers, long shanked

Swiftly

Carningli’s highways and by ways

On the back of his hand

Whilst we follow, as best we can

Shepherding by osmosis

Sometimes instinctive

To the sheep, his tones, distinctive

The flock moving on demand

Alive to his ever familiar command

Labouring on

Sweating slightly with  the July heat

The Bay below,

Curtain called velvet blue,

The sky frames paper triangled sailing boats at play

Church and castle

At our feet

Maybe they hear us working?

In the graveyard, the tall trees bend to listen too.

 

Now we turn, the flock funneled towards homecoming fields,

Sweet grassed, comforted, steadfast and settled

They’re in!

A few rebels

Break for the mountain

But are black bag flapped through the 5 bar gates

Too late!

Baler twined and strung in

Scurrying, heel kicking, stream leaping

Left now

To dot the meadows

An Impressionist painting for the Pembrokeshire hillside

Above beach, and town

Seeping sandy time and tide.

 

We leave, turn away

Even though there’s more, much more to do

(Shearing, dipping, marking, treating)

But maybe not today

That’s all

For even farmers

Have to play

Leave the flock to graze

To raise the bleating clarion call

Dawn to dusk

By night, by day.

 

The wind, sweet heather breathed, new credential

Steeps and gusts above Stone and Castle Hill

Sighing gentle benediction

The Gathering complete

Under John’s direction

Yet we all missed one element, essential,

It leaves us, still,

Our friend, coralled, slumbering long, elsewhere

And now the feathering breeze

Whispers one name

Granville

Granville

 

 

 

 


2 Comments on “The Gathering – dedicated to Granville James”

  1. stew1e says:

    A beautiful tribute.

    Like


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