2 poems by Elizabeth Jane Timms

cemetery
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New Year 1800 (on reading George Eliot)
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New Year’s Eve came to the churchyard, opened the little wooden gate.
Not a single name could be read here – only the old stone path bore
The faint traces of faithful boots, hymns bearing the drops of candle wax.
The graves were covered in deep snow, lives fast asleep in the last century.
Only the black of the church tower stood against the sky,
But in the tower burned a little light,
The drunken bell ringers were ringing in the New Year by the light
Of a dying lantern. Pulling the old threadbare ropes in their silken breeches
And black shoes in which they had danced a quadrille only an hour earlier.
The silent landscape sparkled with snow and the New Year
Staggered in the church door, its coat dripping in the doorway.
Having made its way struggling over the fields,
Hobbling up the old stone path.
And the bell ringers carried on ringing, with their tankards of ale and port
Before falling asleep into deep slumber,
The robes still in their hands,
The empty tankards at their side.
And in the distant night, came the strains of a violin.
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On the Book
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The heavy lid of the book opened, the leather cover
Like a great mahogany door – and I went inside.
Into the book’s vellum world,
Amidst yellowed pages, to find characters asleep
Within their folds, to rub their eyes at my approach.
But in the dark of the oak paneled library, one lamp
Burned low upon a single desk.
The key had been turned in the great lock,
And the books were alone with themselves.
Then all the covers of the books opened like leather doors,
The characters rushed out from the paper –
Glad to leave the prisons of their old pages.
Emerged from the streets of written words,
And dangled their legs over the edge of the shelves.
Nodding ladies, children playing with hoops,
Old sailors, gentlemen in hackney caps with gold topped canes.
The bride on the top shelf waiting for her bridegroom,
But she had to await her fate until the bookmark moved.
One widow sobbed on a book rest and remembered those she had loved.
The world of characters had come alive until the key turned,
And they had to rush back into the books.
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elizabeth 2
Elizabeth Jane Timms is a historian, freelance writer and poet, based in Oxford. She writes for an academic journal on royalty as well as for magazines, journals and the web.
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