Richard Long South Bank Circle 1991

Richard Long Red Slate Circle 1988
Richard Long ‘Red Slate Circle’ 1988

Lines for Richard Long

John James

the grey colour of a pear
in the quiet light of the kitchen
the glittering branches at the window

the force of the hearth breaks out
invoking name & lineage

it’s a good step
that will continue to the end without arriving

When you take up your pack & go
to the remote & desert places of the Earth
your path is a watercourse
or a torrent on the slope

the walker in summer-time on slanting ground
in a robe of vapour

by night there will be shelter
in the hollow & the cleft

I was a walker in earth before I was proficient in learning
catching the deep night & dawn divide
the of the curling wave on the extended shore

now the leg thinks in distance & the arm in weights


Saturday lime Sunday oak & quick-thorn
the place of the little drop & the length of the Avon
when it fills when it overflows
when it disappears in a dark thicket
quick sunlight between clouds

& from above the tops of the whirling trees
measure the veil of the drops in the air
at the width of the river’s mouth
when the sea is turning round

the words in the book & the book in its beginning

Richard Long Cornish Slate Ellipse 2009
Richard Long ‘Cornish Slate Ellipse’ 2009

John James was born in Cardiff in 1939. His publications include Striking the Pavilion of Zero (Ian McKelvie, 1975), Berlin Return (Délires, Ferry Press, Grosseteste Press, 1983), and Dreaming Flesh (Street Editions, 1991). His most recent collection of poems is Kinderlieder (Avocado, 1992).

Note: ‘Lines for Richard Long’ is an extract from a longer poem of the same title which, subsequent to its commission and appearence in part in the first edition of this anthology in 1986, was published in full by Silver Hounds in 1988.

Richard Long South Bank Circle 1991
Richard Long ‘South Bank Circle’ 1991