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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Stone: "The Soul of Stone, A Pantheist - Animist Photographic Portfolio"

A Portfolio in Progress...

Photos Copyright Jim Potts

Some of these rocks, stones, mountains, shelters, threshing-floors,
wind-mills, bridges, churches, monasteries, circles, henges and sites
 have been accorded sacred status by some people
(Uluru, Kakadu, Kit Mikayi, Stonehenge,
Glastonbury, Delphi, Meteora, Dodona).

Megaliths, menhirs, dolmens, runic stones, pebbles...

Some of them are simply very special, magical and atmospheric,
others could be considered as examples of 'the Sublime'.

"You and I are supposedly living in the same world, but who can tell that the thing we popularly call a stone that is lying before my window is the same to both of us?"

D. T. Suzuki, An Introduction to Zen Buddhism.

Starting in Sweden:

"The warl' like an eemis stane...
I couldna read
The words cut out i' the stane".

Hugh MacDiarmid

On to Greece (Zagori and Dodoni)

Ξύπνησα μὲ τὸ μαρμάρινο τοῦτο κεφάλι στὰ χέρια
ποὺ μοῦ ἐξαντλεῖ τοὺς ἀγκῶνες καὶ δὲν ξέρω ποῦ νὰ
τ᾿ ἀκουμπήσω

George Seferis, from Μυθιστόρημα


On Corfu, Paxos, Zakynthos, Andros, Lefkas, Meteora, Mycenae:

Albania, Butrint:

Kenya, Kit Mikayi (Stone of the First Wife),
a rock shrine of the Luo people (sacred status):

Game of Bau, carved in rock slab

Back in Dorset:

Cornwall, Boscastle:

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

On Stonehenge (2010)

In Somerset:

Beer Quarry Caves, Devon:

About Beer Stone



Glastonbury Tor (newspaper photo):

Delphi and Parthenon:

"The site below’s also closed where each year I’ve been
to run my pen finger over Byron’s graffito,
his name, carved on a column I can’t now get close to.
For the last thirty years I’ve witnessed it fading.
Each year it gets harder to find and decipher,
illegible nearly from decades of neglect
since he carved it with Hobhouse in 1809
below and alongside other British graffiti,
sailors on shore leave with ships in Itea.
The B of BYRON is under the E of one HOPE
with the O of HOBHOUSE below BYRON’s B.
And to puzzle all out needed Castalia water
which I’d pour from my bottle all over faint letters.
Sun shone on them wet and made them much clearer
before disappearing back into the marble".

from Tony Harrison, Polygons

Lalibela, Ethiopia (Film screen shot):

Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda:

Great Wall, China:

Summer Palace, Beijing

Big Sur, California:

Caetano Veloso - If You Hold A Stone

Solid Rock - Sacred Ground - Goanna

Afterword (a cautionary tale):

Rock of Ages, Burrington Combe

 As a child I was often told that Augustus Toplady's hymn, "Rock of Ages",
was inspired by a sheltering cleft in this limestone crag at Burrington Combe (Wikipedia photo):

Apparently this 'apocryphal' legend has no factual basis, in spite of the firm conviction of H. J. Wilkins.

"The present writer firmly believes that the memories of the storm and of his sheltering in the rock in Burrington Combe were the sources of inspiration to Toplady : that he most probably spoke of them in a sermon at Blagdon at the time of their occurrence: so that when his hymn " Rock of Ages" was published in I776 and came to their knowledge, it at once awakened memories in his former parishioners, and out of these grew the legend."


But see George Lawton, Within the Rock of  Ages

From "Looking back on the life of sculptor Henry Moore with his daughter Mary", The Telegraph:

"She gestures at the coffee table, which is covered with small, nubbly lumps of flint and pebbles collected by Moore: 'He was always holding a little stone in his hand, internalising its form. He was instinctive: a man unbelievably of things that don't have words. That's what we respond to in his sculptures: the mysterious meaning of form'".

Yiannis Ritsos and pebbles - Museum of Cycladic Art

"It has been aptly suggested that Ritsos saw life through a painter’s eye. The poet’s pictorial approach is evident in his solitary preoccupation with the natural contours of objects, such as roots, bones, and above all stones and pebbles, which are found in abundance in the arid islands of Greece, perhaps as a result of the universal “urge of expression against decay and loneliness”. Stones and pebbles: These were the materials that Yannis Ritsos used, the “plentiful raw material on which one could mark or underline by felt tip pen or Indian ink what the stone itself dictated”.

On the stones of Yannis Ritsos are depicted solitary figures or large groups of people, frontal, in conversation, or sensual couples – archaic figures enduring in time. It is as if these figures spring out of his poems in order to meet characters from myth, the Trojan War, the tragedies – Hercules, Agamemnon, Orestes, Electra, Eleni, Philoctetes – characters incessantly fusing with later ones, never ceasing to exist in collective memory".

Two sketches by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Two sketches by William Stukely:

William Blake, from Milton:

Richard Long, A Walk Past Standing Stones

John Piper, Two Standing Stones in Dyfed:

Above, from Mutual Art

In Salisbury (Museum, Old Sarum, Cathedral):

See also, Megalithic Poems, blog

The Longstone of Minchinhampton, The Modern Antiquarian

Men-An-Tol, Cornwall

Men-An-Tol (2)

Logan Stones


From Susan to Diana, Villanelle

Your youth is like a water-wetted stone,
a pebble by the living sea made rare,
bright with a beauty that is not its own….

Remember this before your hour is flown;
O you, who are so glorious, beware!
Your youth is like a water-wetted stone,
bright with a beauty that is not its own.

Frances Cornford

"People have sense the divine in rocks, mountains, temple buildings, law codes, written texts, or in other men and women. We never experience transcendence directly: our ecstasy is always "earthed", enshrined in something or someone here below".

Karen Armstrong, from Preface to "Islam, A Short History".

"I do not understand cosmologies
which hold that stones
are dead..."

from "Stones in an old African Burial Ground", Patricia Turnbull

"I found in
the quiet of the country where
Rivers Istra and Moskva join
a stone with the shape of some head:
man or woman, bull or cow...

In short
I dug out the block from the dirt
heaved it up on my shoulders to carry
not wishing such beauty should lie for
another thousand years buried"

From The Precious Stone
Leonid Martynov, Russian poet (whose hobby was collecting stones),
translated by Elaine Feinstein

Johan Christian Dahl (Norwegian painter)

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