by Martin Newell
illustrations by Charlotte Bernays
Essex, much of it, might have been designed for cyclists. That rather maligned county which Betjeman said was “Mirrored in ponds and seen through gates” has inspired a collection by another much-published poet, Martin Newell, who has lived in Essex for most of his life. In a 2005 poll to find The Nation’s Favourite Sea Poem, Newell’s recent book: “Song Of The Waterlily” came second only to John Masefield. His popular “Late Autumn Sunlight” was East Anglia seen from a bicycle. “spoke’n’word” now turns up the focus on Essex.
Extract from “Anthem For Essex”:
“Tilty, Wimbish, Stebbing, Shopland
Chipping Ongar, Ingatestone
All the market towns and hamlets
On the rivers Crouch or Colne
West of Walton, east of Easton Shellow
Bowells to Hanningfield
London’s bread-bin, lungs and love-nest
Beaches, birdland, wood and weald
Essex. Seaxes, sheaves and shield.
“Here the horsemen met for racing
Here the highwaymen were hung
Here the painter saw the skyline
Here the tide would poke its tongue
In among the samphire saltings
While the sun set sea alight
Here the smugglers moved the malmsey
Up the creek in dead of night
Customs cutter out of sight.”
Jardine Press Ltd 2005.
150 x 105mm, 36pp
Text © Martin Newell.
Images © Charlotte Bernays