Tuesday, November 4, 2008


These are the ruins of the ancient temple described in the below story where altars were used for sacrificial rites on the cliffs high above the sea:

It had been a glorious day
Walking along the north Cornish coast
Following a stretch of the South West Coast Path
Early that morning we’d parked the car in Saint Agnes
My wife and I and set out
With a picnic in my day pack
At a leisurely pace heading north east
Toward the town of Perranporth
The trail plunges in and out
Of some fairly deep ravines
Carved into the cliffs along the shore
Which makes for some steep
Descents and climbs to get back up
To the cliff tops
Where the views along the coast
In both directions
Are breathtaking and awe-inspiring

We walked by Trevellas Porth and Green Island
Up to Hanover Cove where legend has it
That a boat by that name sank there in
In 1763 with a cargo of gold coins
I wanted to climb down to see if any could be found
But it was far too perilous
There were several coves
At the foot of the cliffs
Where sandy stretches could just be glimpsed
Reachable only by boat
And we saw no boats of any description

We walked clear up to Cligga Head
From where we had a view
Of the mile long sand beach north of Perranporth
At various places there were abandoned mine shafts
Covered by heavy wire grills
Tunnels to the Gates of Hell
I told my wife

At one spot impressive concrete foundations
Remained from some forsaken
Industrial enterprise
Bits of ironwork littered the land
There were odd structures like altars
I tried to convince my wife
That this had been an ancient temple
Where cliff top sacrifices were made
By people of the same race
That built Stonehenge
The corpses with their hearts cut out
Were cast from the cliff
Into the sea to appease the local deities
Their chieftan preacher was allowed
To eat the barbecued hearts

At some point in the more recent past
A stolen car had been dismembered here
Gutted, the engine gone wheels removed
Windows broken forlorn faded blue paint
I picked up one piece
That may have been a driveshaft
Brandishing it aloft as a scepter
Emblem of authority
I proclaimed myself
King of the Coastlands
My realm extending
As far as the eye can see
All living beings there
Must render homage to me
And I would choose as to
Who would live and who would die

We turned from Cligga Head
To go back the way we came
Toward Saint Agnes
Named, by the way, for a virgin
Who at thirteen was raped beheaded and burned
The sun in the west
Lit the clifftop heather
And other assorted windblown wildflowers
With a brilliant clear light
The photos I took that day
Have tones of azure blue

Tiring after a while
Of carrying my heavy scepter
Which I’d thought of bringing back
As a souvenir
And tiring of royal responsibility
Dreading the thought of papparazzi
I decided to discard it

Not wanting to leave it there
By the path sullying this corner of paradise
I approached the edge of the cliff
High above a small chiseled cove
Raising the shaft above my head
I heaved it out into the void
And watched it plummet down down
Out of sight
An abject abdication
Of all my royal rights
I trusted the ocean’s salt waves
Would wash and corrode it away
Over the next few hundred years
My wife, having walked ahead
Didn’t see what I had done

It wasn’t until we were nearly back to Saint Agnes
That for some unfathomable reason
A nasty thought crossed my mind
And I belatedly hoped
That no one had been
Down on the tiny beach below
The spot where I made my scepter-throw
But I banished the thought
And we drove back to the hotel
In Falmouth where we dined
And went to bed for the night
After admiring the lovely full moon

Imagine then my horror
In the morning when we went down
For breakfast in the hotel dining room
And I picked up the local newspaper
Whose headline proclaimed

The story said a young couple
Had gone from Newquay for the day
To an inaccessible cove to sunbathe
Police surmised a hiker had tossed the shaft
Not thinking anyone could be below
And requested anybody with information
To call their offices
And I didn’t say a word

I woke from that unpleasant dream
In a cold sweat
The full moon was just setting
Needless to say I didn’t get back to sleep
Despite the early hour
Later in the morning when we did go down
I was relieved to see no grim headlines
And as I tucked into my eggs and coffee and toast
I didn’t tell my wife
About the fear I’d had
Of taking some young stranger's life
And we got on with our vacation
There were at least two or three
Gardens to visit that day


English Rider said...

Something legendary and Arthurian took hold of you that day. Welcome to my world.

Anonymous said...

pretty cool stuff here thank you!!!!!!!