top of page

John Lanyon: a poem


My aunt she died a month ago and left me all her riches A feather bed, a wooden leg and a pair of calico breeches. (popular song)

You left me a broken loom two-thirds of a beautiful, ancient thing missing the beam, the heddles, the castle – a harp that has lost its strings – missing the click-clack, the criss-cross, the up-down, missing an eye for colour a rhythm in repetition a careful, organising hand.

I think of you at the loom your thick black hair fixed with knitting needles into an unfashionable bun.

You taught me to make from instinct that the surprise of beauty comes when one thing crosses another, again and again.

There are magical houses of making where creation turns like a prayer wheel a spinning wheel, a mill wheel; where we make with broken things with lost parts with broken hearts; where music rises unbeckoned from harps that have lost their strings.

John Lanyon lives in West Oxfordshire, where he works as a gardener, linguist, musician and writer. He is excited by the secret lives of words, the play between the animate and inanimate worlds and the spirits of places. He is approximately 25 per cent of the poetry quartet Four Wordsmen:

bottom of page