Julie Sampson

Narcissi in North Devon

gathering in your coteries
along the grassy hillocks and hedge-line banks
come from the eyrie of your under other worlds,
it’s your star-studded moment.

How you welcome me on my way
this stormy-day of wind-rage,
nodding encouragement
you wave breezily
like yellow-hatted Royals.

This is your path
way to find out who you are
we are your poem
moving your words along their way,
you call.

I came to you the wrong way round –
through the eyes of a wandering nomad poet,
noting your iconic status as golden textual hosts
and before that,
as floral Easter tributes in my childhood church.
I’d always known your story, but
there was disjunct between those who wrote your text
swayed by patriarchal ruse
and now
in this place

Her meadows
you make your annual resurrection,
beckon me to witness your lift from the abyss.
Today, through the lens of past’s living myth
I live your presence.

When I turn back home
Hades will swoop,
draw you to the black holes of his subterranean world.
Tossed by gales and filthy rain
you’ll droop your dipping heads over the bank’s edge
onto the sodden road.
Some of you already shift your profile away from rising sun
shielding your frazzled face
by extending low against the hedge.
You give up too soon,
We have no time.
You need to warn

These are the strangest shadow times
I – and you – have ever known,
up in political space-city the know-alls
are arguing themselves to soporific sleep,
here in the south west’s nether lands
prevailing northerly winds
conspire with wittering trees to tsunami their malevolent ways,
drown us
wreck the roofs
topple the sheep.

I wonder if we will see you again
before he double-backs for us.


Julie Sampson has two poetry collections: Tessitura (Shearsman, 2014); and It Was When It Was When It Was (Dempsey and Windle), 2018. Her edition of Lady Mary Chudleigh’s Selected Poems (Shearsman). was published in 2009.  She was highly commended in The Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, 2019. Author website at https://www.juliesampson.com/ – Twitter at @julieEsampson Instagram at JulieEsampson/writtenindevon.


2 thoughts on “Julie Sampson”

  1. Julie,
    This poem, and its opening stanza, blew me away. There is a playfulness about the way you use language which contrasts beautifully with the deeper meanings and subtleties of the work. Its clever too, inferring shared knowledge of other famous poems and topical, in the moment, not just springtime, but speaks to our current predicament and our own mortality.


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