poetic journeys: schoolchildren at abbey ruins


The somber silence speaks of ages past
when ancient chants and incense swirled in air.
Here monks with bread and chalice practiced mass.

Schoolchildren peek through time-warped glass
at the twelfth century, in gray habits they’re obliged to wear.
Their somber silence speaks of ages past.

Tiny monks cluster in emerald velvet grass,
absorb teachings on St. Benedict and prayer.
Once monks with bread and chalice practiced mass.

Hauling backpacks, the fresh-cheeked monks contrast
with crumbling arches and pillars leading nowhere.
The somber silence speaks of ages past.

Bread and water await them in the undercroft. Cloth mats
checker the vast dirt floor. Soup steams in earthenware.
Once monks with bread and chalice practiced mass.

Roofless walls pray, bony fingers to the overcast
heavens, while God, behind froth-thick fog, hovers, aware.
The somber silence speaks of ages past
when monks with bread and chalice practiced mass.

** September 22, 1999 **


We went on our first trip across the pond to England in September of 1999.  While at Studley Royal, Ripon, we came across the fog-enshrouded Fountains Abbey, founded by Benedictine monks in 1132 and taken over by Cisterians three years later.

On the day we went, the fog added to the mystique.  A group of schoolchildren were there doing a monk re-enactment. They dressed in monk’s habits and were learning about the Rule of St. Benedict.


Fountains Abbey enshrouded in fog


schoolchildren at Fountains Abbey

The schoolchildren were to have lunch in the undercroft, supported by 19 pillars with vaulting 300 ft. long.  Mats were laid out on the dirt floor and they would eat vegetable soup, bread, fruit and water.  These “monk re-enactments” are often done for school groups.


the undercroft

The Chapel of Nine Altars was built from 1203-1247. It is ornate compared to the rest of the abbey.


The Chapel of Nine Altars



“POETRY” Invitation:  I invite you to write a poem of any poetic form on your own blog about a particular travel destination.  Or you can write about travel in general. Concentrate on any intention you set for your poetry. In this case, I wrote a villanelle about Fountains Abbey in England.

A villanelle is a bit complicated but fun to write. You can check out how to write one here: The Society of Classical Poets: “How to Write a Villanelle (With Examples).”

You can either set your own poetic intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: poetry.  (This page is a work in process).  You can also include photos, of course.

Include the link in the comments below by Thursday, May 31 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Friday, June 1, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation, on the first Friday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read posts from our wandering community. I promise, you’ll be inspired!

Thanks to all of you who wrote poetic posts. 🙂