The Master of the Cast Shadow

The Master of the Cast Shadow – an extract from the sequence Consequences

Some painters leave shadow out. The Master hunts it
From the source of light to where the last
Faint filigree fingertip falls,
Unthinking as a sundial.

We each inherit our shadow, our ration of darkness,
That shrivels and spreads as light walks here and there.

They don’t see us, these sad mediaeval faces,
With their crosses, their rings, their daggers, their painted eyes.
They’re on the watch for various ugly kinds
Of early death
What they see is the weather,
For the weather warred over England,
As the roses slugged it out: fog at Barnet,
Snow at Towton, three suns at Mortimer’s Cross
In the open fighting season. Red Gutters
And Bloody Meadows are sprayed over counties.
They killed and killed and killed. Thirty thousand
In a morning. Where did they find the people?
So few around, so many of them butchered.
But some live on as the Master saw them,
Praying, or holding a naked broken sword.

From Collected Poems 1978-2003 (Peterloo Poets, 2005), © U A Fanthorpe 2005, used by permission of Dr R V Bailey.

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