All text and images © Friends of the Ullswater Way 2017
Kathleen Raine Poetry Stones
The Kathleen Raine Poetry Stones can be found in a small clearing in the magical setting of Hallinhag Wood. It can be reached by walking a short distance north-
The lines inscribed on three rocks in this dell are from two poems by Kathleen Raine, who lived in Martindale during the 1940s. Raine was a visionary poet and admirer of William Blake, with a profound sense of the beauty and the spirit of the natural world. She regarded Martindale as an idyllic world apart and wrote some of her finest poems in the valley’s peace and seclusion. These include ‘Night in Martindale’ and ‘On Leaving Ullswater’.
The design and lettering is by Pip Hall, a stone carver from south Cumbria whose other work includes the Poetry Path at Kirkby Stephen and The Stanza Stones in the southern Pennines.
To select the stones Pip visited the site with local residents Jane Penman and Berry Patel. She then made sketches for each of the three stones before returning to carve them in situ.
The poems from which the lines for the poetry stones are taken are Night in Martindale and On Leaving Ullswater.
Night in Martindale
Not in the rustle of water, the air’s noise,
The roar of storm, the ominous birds, the cries –
The angel here speaks with a human voice.
Stone into man must grow, the human word
Carved by our whispers in the passing air
Is the authentic utterance of cloud,
The speech of flowing water, blowing wind,
Of silver moon and stunted juniper.
Words say, waters flow,
Rocks weather, ferns wither, winds blow, times go,
I write the sun’s Love, and the stars’ No.
On Leaving Ullswater
The air is full of a farewell –
Deserted by the silver lake
Lies the wide world, overturned.
Cities rise where mountains fell,
The furnace where the phoenix burned.
The lake is in my dream,
The tree is in my blood,
The past is in my bones,
The flowers of the wood
I love with long past loves.
I fear with many deaths
The presence of the night,
And in my memory read
The scripture of the leaves –
Only myself how strange
To the strange present come!
© copyright The Literary Estate of Kathleen Raine, 2000. Quoted by permission.
Kathleen Raine 1908-
Kathleen Raine was a poet and scholar who wrote in the mystical, visionary tradition of valuing above all things nature and the power of the imagination. She knew from childhood that her vocation was poetry and her parents shared and encouraged her love of it. Born in Essex, she spent several years of her youth with her aunt Peggy Black in Northumberland, a place she remembered as an idyllic world. In the 1920s she studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge but turned away from the prevailing emphasis on rational thought to “the sacred springs of life, which are imagination and the heart.”
After Cambridge she married, but soon eloped with Charles Madge, with whom she had two children. This relationship did not last either. On the outbreak of WW2 she came with her children from London to live in Martindale Vicarage, where she became a friend of Winifred Nicholson and the wealthy art patron Helen Sutherland who lived at Cockley Moor, near Dockray. Locally, Raine was known and remembered as ‘Mrs Madge’. The peaceful seclusion of Martindale enabled her to write some of her finest poetry and in 1943 the volume called ‘Stone and Flower’ was published, with illustrations by Barbara Hepworth. Raine’s Martindale poems perfectly express a theophanic immersion in the natural world.
Her poetry had already achieved much critical acclaim when she met Gavin Maxwell, the love of her life, who was a fond companion but did not, to her distress, reciprocate her love. The title of his book ‘Ring of Bright Water’ is taken from one of her poems. In the 1950s Raine was made a research fellow at Cambridge, where her scholarly writing included her masterwork on William Blake and later on W.B. Yeats. She received numerous literary awards and honours, including the Queen’s Medal for poetry, and inspired many kindred thinkers, including the Prince of Wales. Kathleen Raine died in 2003, aged 95.
by Jane Penman, resident of Martindale
With thanks to our sponsors and supporters
The Lake District Communities Fund
The Hadfield Trust
KATHLEEN RAINE POETRY STONES -
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