Deep in the Wood of the World there lies a Kingdom.
The trees of the Wood speak one to another
by their tingling roots, the soft synapses of fungi,
by their brusque beating branches,
their promiscuous shared seed.
None carries to the Kingdom,
to that far Nation’s notion of sole selfdom;
for a great imagined thorn hedge grows between
the Kingdom and the Wood; and grows
and grows and must grow on forever,
lest pause bring down in a great dry deluge
imagined haws and sloes, thorns
and ancient, hollow, imagined boughs.
Imagine now your mind’s eye passes,
as if to Manderley, though its thorn-grown gates,
along its tangled avenue to where,
as tradition requires, a tower stands;
and in the tower, sleeping, a princess dreams.
She dreams dreams of command:
beautiful, bountiful cornucopiful dreams
that the obedient Kingdom hark and grow;.
And look! the fruits of her dreams come twisting into life:
great jumblements and burrs;
unfruiting brambles, crowns of black thistles,
hogweed, bindweed, briers.
How eagerly they climb the ivy of her tower!
in at her broken window, entwining with the branches
of the frescos of her bedchamber, the fern-fronds
of her marvellous embroidered bedspread;
tenderly around her breasts and temples,
in through the portals of her dreams
until she dreams their thorns as armour,
their lacerations as amours.
And out again they spring, her thorny princelings now,
down the crumbling ashlar of her tower,
braiding and brandishing and cleaving as they go;
down to the unimaginable ground
beneath the briers and the hook-thorns;
down where her groundlings, stricken, lie subject
to her beautiful imagined thornery.
Alack! all lacking her charms and amulets,
they lie entangled in its unimagined grip.
There cries rise to her dreaming ear
as praises. Her mind’s eye passes
along her green emblazoned avenues
and the throng of her grateful uproarious people.
Deep in the wood of the world
there lies a Kingdom.
Deep in the Kingdom
a princess lies.
Peter Armstrong was born in Blaydon on Tyne 1957. He was educated thereabouts and at Sunderland Poly, then trained as a teacher before going into mental health nursing, specialising in CBT. Meanwhile, he published poems in 10 North East Poets, and has collections from Enitharmon (Risings), Picador (Red Funnelled Boat and Capital of Nowhere) and Shoestring (Madame Noire and The Book of Ogham). He lives in Tynedale and helps organise The Bridge folk club, Newcastle.