Sanaa has asked us to gather around for some ghost stories, either a poem or a fiction piece, and for inspiration gave us the poems: ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ by John Keats, ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ by Sylvia Plath and ‘The Stolen Child’ by William Butler Yeats. The story I have taken for my poem is a local one.
A thousand years ago, St Benet’s Abbey
Was a wealthy, thriving Anglo-Saxon monastery;
Now it is ruined and shrouded in mystery,
Isolated and not far from the sea,
Deep in the tidal marshes of the Broads.
All that remains on the north bank of the Bure
Under wide open windswept Norfolk skies
Is a gloomy gate house, a windmill and nothing more.
But if, on the 25th of May, you’re out walking late
And make your way past the abbey,
Beware the screams of agony
Of a monk who was bribed to be a traitor,
And then hanged from a beam above the gate.
Woe betide those who hear his screams
Or witness the final act of tragedy
That takes place at midnight,
When the shape of a monk writhes in agony
Of death, swinging stiff from the beam
And, with a final groan, ends the terrifying sight.
Many years ago, on All Hallows Eve
In foggy darkness, a wherryman lost his way
And found himself opposite the old gateway,
Rooted to the spot by the awful scene;
As soon as it was over, with a yell of terror
He stumbled off to reach his boat
Moored nearby and drowned in the river.
© Kim M. Russell, 2016
Image found on www.edp24.co.uk