Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Lewes, Landscape of Imagination

This poem is the direct result of a visit to the historic Sussex town of Lewes. As always, my friend Graham Collett shot and edited the video and I wrote a poem to accompany it. I have posted the video/poem on my You Tube channel:

or access direct at:

It was during the latter days of last summer that Graham  and I visited Lewes. We only had time to visit the castle and Anne of Cleves’ House, and we thought you might enjoy sharing the experience.

The town is the location of several significant historic buildings, including Lewes Castle and a sixteenth-century timber-framed Wealden hall house known as Anne of Cleves House because it was given to her as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII; although there is no historical evidence to show that she never lived there, she may well have visited from time to time.  

Both Anne of Cleves' House and the Castle are owned and maintained by the Sussex Archaeological Society.


Looking for creative therapy?
Visit the landscape of imagination,
take a journey into history;
Lewes, spoils of Norman invasion,
Courtesy of William, Conqueror
to William de Warenne and spouse
on overcoming Saxon resistance,
a castle there to build on the Ouse,
dedicated to St Pancras,
in remembrance of a child martyr,
executed for his faith

Pass through the Barbican Gate,
get a feel for olde England surrounds;
a Motte and Bailey castle,
later fortified with stone, the better
to defend against invasion;
few richer spoils of time to be found,
firing the imagination,
filling inner eye and ear with sights 
and sounds of generations
ghosting a courtyard dominated
by all-seeing towers

Climb, climb, a winding stair
of stone, labour of love, chiselled
out of the history
of olde England, witness to battles
and executions,
as well as celebrations, successes
and failures of its tenants
over centuries of war and peace;
echoes of laughter and tears
haunting East Sussex surrounds
for a thousand years

Lewes, meeting its past head-on,
where Anne of Cleves, and entourage
loyal to a discarded queen
may well have sought out the peace
of Tudor England’s green
but troubled land, under a fickle king
so desperate for a son
he wed unwisely (six times, no less)
letting ego-led lust have its head,
while Anne kept hers, even acquired
a house in Lewes

Time, though, will wait for nothing
and no one, least of all a poem passing
through its eternal passages
of fame and fortune, secrets and lies,
honourable deaths, executions
history may well attempt to justify
and scholars make excuses
while poets love to visit time and again,
bring to the landscapes
of imagination, inner eye and ear,
open to whatever…

Day done, history’s curtain drawn
across the windows of minds anxious
to chew on history’s bones,
reach their own conclusions as to how
past into present excavations
of various ruins and other testaments
to history’s own, for better or worse,
invest ghosts the ilk of Anne of Cleves
and such tenants as its castle
once let live, love, make merry and die,
with a singular peace…


Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Note: I had problems uploading the video to You Tube so you may need to watch it again if your first attempt resulted in any distorted images.