Image by Charlotte Medlicott

Poem introduction

This poem is set in the Lake District, which is in the north-west of England, where the hills are called 'fells', and it was written in memory of Dr Robert Woof, the director of the Wordsworth Trust.

The Light Fell

The weather was confused all day
so who can say why it was just then
the light fell that way -

the sun riding low, burnishing
for a minute, no more, the tops of the hills
against a curtain of cloud, ashen with rain and snow.

Or why it was then the deer chose to show their faces,
lift their heads from grazing, step near, pause
before coming on again.

'Oh human life, mysterious,' I heard a woman say,
'not gone, oh no, not gone. There's electrics you know.
I wouldn't say it if I didn't believe it to be so.'

And as the light fell drew our eyes, a thinning seam of amber
compressed between the land and sky,
I could believe it too.

That your guiding hand had motion still
and influence among these hills, to light the Crag and Michael's Vale
just so, according to your will.

And as the soil hit the wood and the gathered crowd moved,
pressed arms, said what they could, wished well and farewell,
that it was just as much you as the still lowering sun

that threw one flank of the valley dark
and left the other lit,
to illustrate, as the land here always did,

what we'd but sensed within ourselves.
How at once and from the very same source,
a light could rise, as the same light fell.


copyright © Owen Sheers 2006, used by permission of the author

Books by Owen Sheers