Quaker Graveyard, Lake District

The steps were greened with moss
curved by countless feet;
wind-fed trees quietly groaned
though no birds flew.
The door of close-grained oak
and dark uncertain years
seemed ready to repel
all those who came that way.

I turned the heavy key, and pushed.
Unwillingly, the door gave way
to let me through the high stone walls
built to guard the graves
against intruders such as me.

Simple headstones strewed the pathless grass
their very plainness a measure of their simple faith
which rejected all ministry between them and God,
the hard stone brooking no dispute.

These goodly men and women
came to God in those raucous days
when freedom from priestly rule began.
They owned their small farms, were called ‘statesmen’
in the time of great estates
giving them independence of thought
in life and now in this sanctuary
hidden in these torn hills.

Such a place as this
lets down a thread for me to grasp.

Geoffrey Bould

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