A Hatfield Mass (2014)

Hatfield_Mass cover 300

Published by Worple Press Autumn 2014: more information.

“I read A Hatfield Mass and loved it. I sensed in it an awareness of the divine, a profound spirituality and a joyous reparation for centuries of the exclusion of the divine feminine [. . .] I love the language and rhythms of these poems, the kindness, the awareness and insight, the movement between great monumental work and human love and respect for the lover [who] is given a delicate, yet mighty place and space in the world’s heart and with her all we women are. I loved this little book and will treasure it as I rarely do with books these days.” Olivia Byard

Reviewed by Andrew Rogers for Dundee University Review of the Arts: “Crucefix’s poetry is intimate and immediate, and also at times jarring in its open sexuality. Rather than fall prey to the obvious clichés of spiritual love, Crucefix bears the cross of sexuality in the face of oppressive stigmas, here manifested in Roman Catholic teaching, and lives, it seems, under another god: Aphrodite”. Full review.

Listen here to Martyn reading ‘Reclining Figure, Angles’ (credo) from this sequence of poems:


Voice and shape in an English landscape – in Martyn Crucefix’s bold new sequence of poems, the sensuous shapes of Henry Moore’s work interweave with the fluid, observant voices of the verse. From curves and spaces, words and silence, Crucefix constructs a secular Mass that explores a variety of forms of love, our relationships with people and the world around us.

And this is something I have sometimes known

coming across these meadows they’ve let go

to become shaggy and bright

coming through flowering grasses

through purple vetch and yellow vetch erect

In part a journey from innocence to experience, these are poems marvellously open to the beauty of landscape, the shared intimacies of our bodies, the passage of time through which we are endlessly becoming: “if not more beautiful we grow more rich”.

A Note on these poems

The exhibition of Henry Moore sculptures which initiated this sequence of poems took place in the grounds of Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, from April to September, 2011. The pieces named are a small selection of what was on show in the gardens and woodlands surrounding the house.

The pieces referred to in the text are: Large Totem Head (LH 577); Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped (LH 655); Reclining Figure, Angles (LH 675); Draped Reclining Figure (LH 336); Mother and Child (LH 269b); Reclining Connected Forms (LH 612) with other images relating to Reclining Mother and Child (LH 649).

The Coda section of the sequence is a loose version of the anonymous German libretto of Bach’s cantata ‘Ich habe genug . . .’ (BWV 82).

From this collection . . .


Three Piece Reclining Figure, Draped


for Louise


Nothing whatsoever to do with dissolution

nor decay this falling to pieces

familiar from my walking out in pieces

as I do in the course of most of my days


Though she is half-covered she seems one

with these stumps and blocks of legs

draped with nothing more round her thick thighs

like the trunks of golden-barked trees

where the knee’s articulation is the object

I gaze at I want to lick so much

where slicing through the body my hands go

burrow and under and between the air


O she has the long broad back I reach for

by night your shallow-ribbed back

these holes suggestive of hands-on-hip

as if she’s propped herself in our morning bed

and this other is the hole of the heart

defined by curves replete with daylight

with gardens and lawns haunted by flesh

real and weighty and rounded and plinthed

and yours by sunrise after the night before

the angle of my crooked arm frames your breast

under the high-held leaves of oak and ash


In that moment we’ve such bodies as have

slipped their limits to stretch and curve

to define the air by losing self-definition

where crows and jays flap their untidy rags

no longer mocking the pared-back stump

of the head—now set to praise the sun

with these minuscule pocks and scratches

these distinguishing marks from top to toe

and her broad back flat-ribbed and stroked

is yours as over one shoulder I look for day

to rise over the other where I lay my head

One thought on “A Hatfield Mass (2014)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s