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.
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
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