Bosullow Well, a poem by David Oates

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While clearing a ditch in that magical upland of West Penwith, just below the great hill-fort of Chûn, a farmer gradually revealed a relic from the distant past – a well with lintels of moorstone.  Its age is uncertain, its magic undeniable


From sunlit morn of dusty day

Down steps worn smooth

By countless tread of feet

Through ages now held tight

In time’s embrace,

I walk with ghosts –

With ghosts whose presence seeps

From every stone.

In every fern-filled crevice

Spirits stir and flow

And fill me, hold me with their power,

Til mists of passing years then parts

And as it clears,

They stand here still.

This is their place, not mine –

I stand apart in time and space

And watch them come,

Strong limbed, brown skinned,

With wild hair flowing free.

To bend on moss damp stone,

And from the depths of shadow

They pull from limpid depths,

In earthen pitchers, brimming full,

The source of life.

This place apart, where people pause,

Where lovers tryst,

Where unremitting toil

Is briefly held at bay

By liquid coolness that brings


It dwells in curve of bank

Where stones long shaped and set

Arch o’er a crystal clearness –

Repository of peace – embrace me, too.



David Oates is a Cornish bard who has published a history of Troon, entitled “Echoes of an Age”, a guide to Godrevy and Gwithian, “Walk the hidden ways” and a slim volume of his own verse, “Poems from the far west”. His unpublished work includes a reflection on a Cornish childhood, “What time do they close the gates, Mister?” and a fictionalised story for young people based on the extant life of St Gwinear, with the working title, “The son of a king”. David is working on another guide in the “Walk the hidden ways” series, entitled “Hard Rock country”.

David is a tenor singer with the well-known group, Proper Job based in mid- Cornwall and has collaborated with Portreath musician, Alice Allsworth, to write the lyrics for a number of songs about Cornwall and the Cornish.


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