Those Ancient Hills

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Places.”

BeFunky_english hill.jpg

Those ancient hills of Devon

carved and sculpted into wild beauty

by millenia of harsh and gentle weather

trampled by roaming sentient creatures

what have they seen,

those silent rocks

exposed above the rough ground?

what colours in the skies above?

what visual poetry have they witnessed

and what forgotten life forms

have died beside them?

should I never again romp those hills

should my eyes close without a final view

or my ears have no last opportunity

to hear birds singing in those English trees

the growl of a distant tractor ploughing a field

and the laughter of my siblings

while the church bells chime out their music

calling the faithful to church in the nearby village

still all of my senses will unfold to the memories

of a child playing and skipping, possessing the world

running up and rolling down those beloved ancient hills.

© Jane Paterson Basil

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31 thoughts on “Those Ancient Hills

  1. There are the most treasured possessions, enough to last for lifetimes, Jane: a child discovering, appropriating the world under its feet, running, free over hills – like you, i have known that, and it still keeps my heart warm in the greyness of the concrete jungle… fifty years on.

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        1. Today’s children seem to be surrounded by fear. My mum always said that fear if you fear things they are more likely to happen. She didn’t even know where the back-door key was, let alone use it! But that was 50 years ago and more. Happy days…

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          1. Yeah, I remember, just like that… those were different times… if you tell your kids about, they’d think you are joking; kids these days don’t even know how a real apple, cherry, strawberry tastes like; even a banana, now, that I think (the way they used to spread their ripe aroma outside the store, right on the way to school). They are afraid to taste milk from a cow, or chicken from the country hen-house.

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            1. Those bananas – I had forgotten! But here’s a weird thing: I know a man who’s nearly seventy. He grew up in the normal way, and yet he prefers battery-reared chicken to free range, and shop-bought cakes to home-made ones. He has a lerge garden, but grows heavy cropping vegetables, having no interest in the quality of the flavour! How is that possible?

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                  1. And some things are better remembered. All my life – since I was little and used to “steal” them away from our school library (this was forbidden reading, so the librarian, a friendly lady, used to close an eye) – and until now, I enjoyed reading Arabian Nights. Full of wit, funny, exotic, and what -not, they have always been a special attraction. I remember how the Caliph always recommended that a story with deep meaning and educational value should be written with the “tip of the thinnest golden needle inside the corner of the eye”, for next generations to learn.
                    Maybe you just mentioned him as a weird exception for us to consider (by exception, of course, I mean, the guy who could eat all “bio” and from the source, but who dies for battery, processed,etc, stuff). Some people do like harming themselves, don’t they?

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                    1. And some – he is a diabetic with leukemia!
                      Arabian Nights… I was a contrary child. For example, I started reading adult books at the age of nine because I was told that they would be above my head. As for Arabian Nights, at some point it was recommended to me, so I couldn’t possibly read it! I think it is time to correct that!

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                    2. Maybe it was recommended to me for the same reason… I don’t know. I spent most of my childhood dreaming in a tree. I didn’t pay much attention to people apart from the ones I read about in books!

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                    3. My childhood was divided in two time/space dimensions: school time, in the city, with mom and dad (awful time! discipline, study-time, chore-time…). And then, VACATION time at my grandparents: hills, meadows, forest, creek,tree-climbing, cherry-robbing, pasturing the cows, time to wash-away all my civility.

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                    4. I can almost taste the joy you must have felt during those times with your grandparents.
                      When I was a child I had no idea of the contrasts between different lifestyles. My mother would speak of her years spent living in London before I was born; of trips out to the public parks with my brothers and the children of neighbours in tow. She said that if she hadn’t taken those children with her they would never have seen a tree. I couldn’t begin to imagine what that would be like.

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                  1. BTW: I’m a little reluctant to ask, but can you tell me how on earth can I address you, or anyone else on my “followers” list outside this dialogue box? I’ve been looking for like two hours (I’m also being irresistibly caught up in other blogs content, which I shouldn’t be doing right now) for some direct form, like a “Comment” box or something – I’ve been nominated for an award and I need to communicate it to some ten people before i go to sleep. Thank you.
                    .

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    1. Thank you! You need to add the sound of the nearby tinkling stream. I left that important detail out. I could taste the cool water as I listened to its music. It really was idyllic. I think I’ll write a poem about the legend which surrounds the place.

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    1. Does that mean she’s called Devon Feathers? I hope so. That is a wonderful name! If she achieved fame people would assume it was a pseudonym. I hope she visits, although if she does, she will be unlikely to find my tucked-away hills. Surrounded by lush fields, hedges and tinkling streams, this gorse-spotted place felt prehistoric, and although never visitted by the village people, it was the centre of a legend. The local Saint was said to have been cut down with scythes, and where her blood spilt a spring erupted, and scarlet pimpernels grew! I used to sit by the spring and picture our St Heiretha in the bloom of youth, not knowing what was creeping up behind her.

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        1. About 12 years ago. I live only a few miles away, but although there is a public footpath nearby the area that I loved has had a fence built around it, and the spring that i mention in the poem about the local saint – which I posted a few minutes ago is behind that fence. It would make me unhappy to return there under those circumstances.

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