Three gold headed children bent in prayer,
sun through the west window on the copper ear
of barley, marking Cobden’s seat, which we keep free.
Loaves on the altar, a sermon of worlds
in a hazel nut; and the new vicar said
she would not bless the bread, as it was inanimate.
Well up ‘till now, we have blessed a loaf each year
which was kneaded with love, to remember the harvests
when there was no bread, and flour was made
from potatoes and sawdust, as Cobden said.
But it seemed less than nought as the bread
had been bought from a supermarket.
Deuteronomy and the bread of life,
and there still remains a westerly light
on the altar and the corn and the starched altar cloth,
placed with apples from the village orchards;
Braddick’s Nonpareil, Knobby Russet,
Blenheim Orange, Peasegood Nonesuch.
Richard Cobden was born at the old farm-house of Dunford in the parish of Heyshott on 3rd June, 1804. A Sussex, man he was universally known as a great Reformer, and became leader of the Anti-Corn Law League.
James Simpson is a Jerwood/Arvon writing fellow and was a prizewinner in the Thomas Hardy Society’s James Gibson Memorial Poetry Competition. He has collaborated with the artist and printmaker Carolyn Trant on the artist books, Hunting the Wren and The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter (both Parvenu Press), editions of which now reside in private and public collections nationally and internationally. ‘Heyshott Harvest’ is taken from their most recent artist book collaboration Some Light Remains.