A little context: not long ago a fragment of a 12th century manuscript missal (a book containing instructions for carrying out the mass) was found in an archive in the Scottish borders. It inspired a project which has involved performances, audio-visual art, installations and new compositions.
I’ve sung in two of these events, performing plainsong chants from the manuscript and a new composition by Seán Doherty responding to its contents. While practicing and performing for these events, I’ve been prodded by the experience to write poems, the first of which (written in November 2012 at an event in Hawick itself) is here:
You want to see a soul?
A near immortal something,
that sings on in a resonance of ink
nibbed to each page
with extraordinary care;
words on skin in skin, fragmented,
now exhumed and rising
word on note on tongue
from lungs expelling songs of other times
and realms entirely;
so old they’re new,
so strange they hang in air
unbound, aloud, beyond