Giants once roamed here… (revised)

in a mist that rolls along the North Sea coast.
Looming through thousands of years, woolly mammoths
weathered waves on a journey to extinction.

Among mounds of stones and sand at the foot
of crumbling cliffs, where Norfolk juts its chin,
waves roll out and crash back in,
devouring the coast from Yarmouth to King’s Lynn.

I cannot forget what I have never known
but still wonder how it was when spring tides
crashed and roared below the behemoths
shambling towards the brink.

Fossils cached by glaciers exposed
by storms lay bleached
on a lonely wind-swept beach:
a male Steppe Mammoth’s gargantuan bones.

Later came farmers, fishermen and lighthouse keepers,
local people and holiday makers
who fell in love with roaring ocean echoes
and the changing light of Norfolk skies.

Now the village clings like a limpet
to eroding cliffs, teased by waves
that weave sea-tangle and beach debris,
waiting for the drop:

severed heads of conduits, limbs of sea defences,
rubble and concrete, and sandbanks
replaced with man-made reefs of granite,
while the village holds tight to nature’s hand.

Kim M. Russell, 24th January 2019

My response to Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Climate Change

This week Susan says that so many global statements have been made about climate change that the challenge is to write new poems that are different, personal and specific.  She’d like us to amplify an aspect of the world so that others can see it too; whatever our politics and moral positions are when it comes to climate change, she wants to see details, the evidence of our senses, time and spirit.

I’ve linked up with a poem I wrote back in 2016, which has been revised several times, and is all about the effects of climate change on my little corner of the British Isles.

24 thoughts on “Giants once roamed here… (revised)

  1. My Florida is like your Norfolk in that it ekes a rough existence at the edge of a turbulent sea. I think it’s been said that during the last ice age, one could walk from Brittany to Britain, so vanished the seas; now all that’s returning, and life which ekes itself at the water’s edge is contending with vanishing shores and changing habitat. Humans–and their poems–bear a difficult ability of seeing time over vast distances, where in the animal world its just today, today, today. The rough grain of savage passage sings clearly in your poem–an edge where the elemental is all too close. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Brendan. Archaeological discoveries in our little part of Britain have changed understanding of pre-prehistoric times. We have the most important archaeological site in Western Europe, the best preserved Neanderthal site in the country and ours is the only county where evidence of four species of human have been found. Before the Ice age, a land mass connected Britain to the Continent, and 850,000-year-old footprints were left at Happisburgh (just along the coast from where I live) by nomads hunting mammoths, bison, rhinos and deer, evidence of which has been found there.


  2. Sad though, the tale told is as gorgeous as its telling
    “woolly mammoths
    weathered waves on a journey to extinction.” the alliteration and the image in these lines I find particularly striking

    Thanks for dropping by my blog Kim

    much love…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, thank you. The view from your home takes in centuries! This is my favorite stanza, the hinge connecting your time–or the looking glass:
    “I cannot forget what I have never known
    but still wonder how it was when spring tides
    crashed and roared below the behemoths
    shambling towards the brink.”
    Such movement and life makes your poem a time machine for me to travel in. The long view almost made me forgive us our trespasses, as I see that climate has always been changing and species always disappearing. Someday it was bound to be our turn. But we didn’t have to help it. We could have loved it as much as your words show love. A marvelous poem in which I travel far.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A beautiful capture of your “little corner”, alas! the climate change. I especially like the third stanza, and this line “I cannot forget what I have never known” yet the reader knows from your title that giants once roamed there. Amazing poem, Kim!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Marja. They are still uncovering interesting artifacts along our coast. I would love to know what it looked like when the mammoths roamed.


  5. How beautifully you’ve captivated your corner of the world! As I read I could hear the sound of time’s chariot. The detail work is amazing. The expression “a journey to extinction” appears so haunting!

    Liked by 1 person

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