Castle on the Knoll

My Norman walls have overseen
the bustling market for centuries.
I’ve witnessed war and rebellion,
wealth and famine, the flourishing
of Norwich as a fine city.
I harbour ancient treasures,
chronicle the lives and times of citizens:
some were imprisoned in my dungeons,
while others hung from my walls for all to see.
Ghosts linger like mouldering scent
clinging to items of archaeology,
to bones, animal and human,
late Iron Age torcs and medieval art.
My favourite exhibit is kept in my heart,
the Norwich Snapdragon,
which once held one person
in its body made of basketwork,
their legs concealed beneath its skirt.

Kim M. Russell, 21st August 2019

My response to Poets United Midweek Motif: Museum(s)

This week’s midweek motif is museum(s). Susan says that she loves museum-ed objects of art and history, the buildings, and the evidence of choices regarding what to include and why, as well as the many benches that dot museums, and the smaller and more obscure collections on offer these days. Our challenge is to pick a museum, any museum, and write a new poem that takes her there. To inspire us, she has shared quotations from Carrie Adams, Andy Warhol and Sharon Waxman, and poems by Richard Wilbur, Ben Purkert and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

30 thoughts on “Castle on the Knoll

  1. So, I spent some time looking up the Norwich snapdragon, and I’m still confused. Is it to play out St. George and the Dragon? If so, that’s delightful, but the “legs beneath the skirt” threw me off. What a formidable edifice! I like the pride of the museum, noting everything seen beneath its gaze and in its belly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was part of medieval plays and processions. St George was an important character in mumming and mystery plays. The skirt hid the legs of the man inside the frame work, making the dragon move.


  2. That is the beauty of Britain to be able to view hundreds of years history in almost every town and village. The church in my home town of Alton in Hampshire, still had evidence of bullets fired into its doors in the 1640’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are blessed to live amid so wide and deep a midden of history! I count my local history in tens of years; you have centuries and millennia beneath your feet. Who knows what cultures are further down the foundations of Norwich Castle. A land rich in ghosts: no wonder your voice is so mellifluent and varied. Was the Snapdragon used for parades or torture or both? Any time a dragon appears in English relics, there’s usually an old deity, replaced by a saint, then a poet in the feathered singing-robe or tuion, winging the verses. Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true., Brendan. When I lived in Ireland, our first home was a short distance from the Hill of Tara and a short car journey from Newgrange. I clearly remember the first time I saw the Book of Kells in Dublin, – at the tie I was living in the depths of the Meath countryside and my nearest town was Kells! So much history indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You have sparked my interest so I am reading up on The Norwich Dragon

    “Snap, Snap, steal a boy’s cap, give him a penny and he’ll give
    it back”

    Much love…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful poem..” My favourite exhibit is kept in my heart,“ Absolutely true! Such historically rich places are a living museum that brings out the overall culture effortlessly. You are blessed…knock wood! :))

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It must be wonderful to live where traces of our ancient heritage lie. Being a newer country ours is modern history compared to yours of ancient and near ancient. We must go overseas for that. Those with indigenous or African slaves really have none of this as their ancestors kept no records.
    Like us, me with Isle of Man Corkhill and the English Fletcher, and Mrs. Jim’s French Pitre’s and Pucou’s of the Bordeaux area, many here in the States can come to Europe and even visit with descendants of those who stayed and their places. I have only found one Hufendick tombstone in a cemetery west of Frankfort.
    I presume this Norfolk Snapdragon you can identify with yourself in years now past. How romantic!! Next time we visit we should run over to Norfolk and that area. BTW, our Nebraska where I grew up has a nice smaller town of Norfolk. We lived about 30 miles east in the Missouri River Valley’s hills.
    Again, a lovely poem you wrote.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Britain is saturated with history . Tis a pity there is little emphasis on history as a subject in schools Ancient and Modern history should be compulsory if we want to avoid making the same mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

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