Sebastian Barker

Image by Caroline Forbes

The Uncut Stone

The Uncut Stone

'a stone was cut out, not by human hands' (Daniel 2:34)
'the cornerstone cut out without hands' (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho)

Sunsets blazing out of my head,
Burnt-out midnights moving on,
Nothing remains of the life I led,
Clean as the wind-swept sky, I'm gone.
Nobody loses, nobody gains
A drop of water in a thousand springs.
Not a trace of my life, not a trace remains.
I am the voice of the ancient things.
I am the audience nobody sings.

I come from the valley of the uncut stone,
A spark from the furnace in my father's eye.
I belong with the muscles of the dancing bone
In the womb of my mother in her ecstasy.
Nobody noticed, nobody saw
What being (a babe in the wilderness) brings:
The more I advance, the more I withdraw.
I am the voice of the ancient things.
I am the audience nobody sings.

In my years of cutting the linguists' key
To the door of the dungeon of the dispossessed,
I descended to the Pontiff of the Holy See
Kneeling in the belly of the human beast.
What am I saying? Give me some air!
Death is the death of a thousand stings.
The bloodier mortality, the bloodier the care.
I am the voice of the ancient things.
I am the audience nobody sings.

In the time of harvest our dust allows,
I walk in the court of the uncut stone
Formed in the market, shadowed by trees,
Circled by water, the sun and the moon.
Nobody prosecutes, chairs, or defends
The court of the stone of the uncut wings
Of the whole of the harvest nobody ends,
I am the voice of the ancient things.
I am the audience nobody sings.

from Damnatio Memoriae: Erased from Memory (Enitharmon, 2004), copyright © Sebastian Barker 2004, used by permission of the author and publisher


Sebastian Barker

Sebastian Barker Reading from his Poems

1Tilty Mill

2The Green Aphis

3The War of Watch and Pen



6The Walled Garden

7On the Rocks

8Before the Time of the Sundial 1, 3, 4, 8

9The Hand in the Well

10Go, Gracious Words




14The Light on the River

15In the Cradle of the Poets

16Visitation in the Mountains


18Spring Day Near Reepham

19A Sealed Box for Xanthi

20Strike the Lovely Dumb

21Undone by Love

22Drinking Song

23A Love Song to Eros

24Being Here

25The Sage of the Cambrian Mountains

26The Dancing Crocodile

27Curriculum Vitae


29A Book

30Young Woman Dancing

31A Small Ballet of Light

32The Lilies of the Field


34Take hands. The moon

35On the Anvil of the Tongue

36The Visitors

37Tell of the Sad Derangement of the Mind


39Holy the Heart on which We Hang Our Hope

40In the Valley of the Moselle

41The Rites Mysterious

42The Uncut Stone

43The Conscience of the Real

44Walk with Me

45The Fluting Trumpeteer

46The Elderberry Tree

47The Articles of Prayer

48Rosaceous Wonders

49The Stranger in the Pass

50For Eddie Linden on his 70th Birthday

51For Glyn Hughes on His 70th Birthday

52Spirit of the River

Books by Sebastian Barker