Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Land by Vita Sackville-West

I was fortunate to find this book last week in the 2nd hand bookshop in Llandeilo. It is a very long poem about the weald and downland of Kent and I don't know how I have lived so long and not really come across it before. Here is just a little scrap to tempt you and although it is in the summer and harvest section, I think it could apply any time and perhaps place, since we have Merlin's Cave about 6 miles from here:

When moonlight reigns, the meanest brick and stone
Take on a beauty not their own,

And past the flaw of builded wood

Shines the intention whole and good,

- And all the little homes of man
Rise to a dimmer, nobler plan

When colour's absence gives escape

To the deeper spirit of the shape,

- Then earth's great architecture swells

Among her mountains and her fells

Under the moon to amplitude

Massive and primitive and rude,

Then do the clouds like silver flags

Stream out above the tattered crags,

And black and silver all the coast

Marshals its hunched and rocky host,

And headlands striding sombrely

Buttress the land against the sea,

The darkening land, the brightening wave, -

When moonlight slants through Merlin's cave.

A glimpse of Talley Abbey through the trees, taken yesterday.


  1. You are lucky to have found "The Land". I`m not sure if it is in print now. Does Vita S-W keep up the rhyming couplets all the way through the poem? That must take some doing with such a long work!

  2. Yup! I shall look out for it for you in my travels - there's bound to be a copy at Hay . . .

  3. I too love 'The Land' though had missed the bit you posted. Merlin's Cave - now would that be somewhere near Bryn Myrrdin? (My spelling may be wrong)

  4. This post has instituted a search because I thought I had a copy of The Land, I certainly have all VS-W's gardening books. I can't find it so much search further when I have time. It's a wonderful poem and was actually written in Persia in the 1920s. Vita was a leading light in the Women's Land Army during the war though as an organizer rather than a worker I think!