Two Poems by Penelope Shuttle

by the hoar rock in the drowned wood*

there was once
a feasting-cup city

pearl and aquamarine
of its precincts and palaces

sea-green peridot
of its square miles

but no one knows a way back
through time

to when Lyonesse
was fresh from the hands of its makers

No one can bear to think
of its libraries

given to or snatched up
by the sea,

illuminated missals,
neatly-kept annals,

mathematical and philosophical
treatises of its thinkers,

rare volumes swollen
and blotched beyond rescue

Are its people lost
in the sullen courts of sleep**

or are they listening even now
for the approach

of the first responders,
hoping to be ferried to safety,

not daring to look back at
roofs, walls, belfries of the foundered town?**
*The Anathemata, David Jones
**Sunk Lyonesse, Walter de la Mare

clad me naked

from the coffers of Lyonesse
          a weather wringing its hands

from the tongue of Lyonesse
          silence billing and cooing

from Lyonesse as she was and is
          everything you could possibly ask for

an empty hopechest
          a hornpipe a fingerbone
Penelope Shuttle lives in Cornwall. Her most recent publication is Father Lear, a pamphlet from Poetry Salzburg, August 2020. Her thirteenth collection, Lyonesse, appears from Bloodaxe, in 2021. Twitter @penelopeshuttle