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ARC Home > Projects > Sacred land :
Sacred poems | About the poems | Five poems

Poems of sacred places

Poetry reading beside the shrine of Our Lady of the Crag, Knaresborough, Yorkshire

Why do certain places haunt us?

So asks the poet and writer Blake Morrison in his foreword to a unique book of poems called Songs of Sacred Places. The poems record the amazing insights of schoolchildren, aged from 6 to 16, from four very different communities throughout Britain – about their own sacred places.

They took part in a competition, organised by Sacred Land and Arts For Nature and funded by the Millennium Commission as part of Sacred Land’s Arts and Sacred Places project, to celebrate the year 2000 in England.

At Knaresborough in Yorkshire the schoolchildren wrote about the town’s ancient shrine of Our Lady of the Crag, overlooking the river Nidd. Children in South London helped prepare the site for a Buddhist sacred garden at the Jamyang Buddhist Centre – in what used to be a strictly-guarded courthouse in the Elephant and Castle. In Leicester the children worked on a Hindu garden beside their school in Rushey Mead and in Somerset children contemplated the 3,000 year old yew tree that grew in their village of Ashbrittle.

I stand all on my own
Cold in winter, hot in summer
Watching people rushing,
Building churches, fighting,
Dying in the wars
People are buried under my roots
I am old,
3,000 years old
Old, wrinkled and wise…

by Connor Porter, aged 6, Stawley Primary School, Ashbrittle
The teachers whose pupils took part in the competition were trained by the legendary English teacher Jill Pirrie. Her repeated successes in the W.H. Smiths children’s poetry competition were chronicled by the late Ted Hughes. Read Jill Pirrie’s brief introduction to the book here>.

Read five of the poems

To get a copy of Songs of Sacred Places go to our bookshop>

Sacred Land also worked in association with poet Jay Ramsay to publish an anthology of poems called Earth Ascending. buy this book>

In a further collaboration with Martin Palmer around Martin's book 'Sacred Land' Jay Ramsey has contributed a moving poem on the theme called 'Summerland".

The poem is featured on the Sacred Land Project website and you can read it by clicking here.

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