Fragments of Blue

The Red Field's installation in the abbey ruins

The Red Field’s installation in the abbey ruins

I’ve mentioned my first experience of singing with the Fragments Project in Hawick and now it’s time to continue cataloguing my more recent collaboration with it in Jedburgh, through the mixed medium of preamble and poem!

(This is a digression: Actually, just typing that makes me realise the effect my research on Dante has seeped into my blogging enterprise… Both his Vita Nuova – the narrative of his love for Beatrice – and his Convivioa philosophical treatise – are constructed from prose stories and commentaries around poems. That literary model is called prosimetrum and I appear to have accidentally slipped into it. Anyway, back to the preamble).


I was taking part in the first performance of Seán Doherty‘s ‘Et clamabant’, a piece written in response to the music in the Hawick Missal, at an event in Jedburgh Old and Trinity Church and in the ruins of Jedburgh Abbey. I’ve written a longer piece about the experience for the project blog, but for now, here’s a poem that came out of the evening:

A tea break during rehearsals at Jedburgh

A tea break during rehearsals at Jedburgh


Jedburgh Abbey

glass fallen from the windows

ground by weather

allowed now

in through emptinesses

unglazed with everchanging stain

a membrane hard not to imagine

and outside remains




if only in the persistence of window frames


if only in the voices


passed between the pillars


if only in the north wall

which half remembers holding back

the crush of sweating life

of trade and cattle profane chatter

of courting and wedding and begetting


if only in the song


if only in perception

unconvinced by the openness to atmosphere

reminding the wallstones that they belong

to the water

to the winds

to the gentle corruptions of time

to the still resounding sky


  1. davidjabowe · August 9, 2013

    I had some formatting issues with this poem, if anyone has any tips on indenting lines and keeping the indents from the draft to the published post?

  2. Julia · September 7, 2013

    I loved reading this poem. Now I wonder what walking around Rome will lead you to write.

    • davidjabowe · September 9, 2013

      Thanks, so far I’ve only managed some silly lines about a gecko, but hopefully the muses will be a bit less petrified than the ones in the Capitoline museum!

  3. Pingback: Fragments (revisited) | David J A Bowe
  4. Pingback: The last fragment falls into place | David J A Bowe

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