Poetry: My Strike-a-Light – John Birtwhistle

An ancient stone once used to produce sparks was excavated in the grave of a child. This elegy rekindles her memory.

My Strike-a-Light

My little light
My strike-a-light
My spark struck off
A sharp old age

O bright and likely
Shining girl
O true, O white
Most lively stone

Here is stone
My only lightling
My stricken mite
So sparky one

On the Isle of Whithorn on the Solway coast of Galloway, excavation of graves from the early mediaeval period turned up a smooth white quartzite pebble the size of a hen’s egg. Scratches across it showed it had been used as a “strike-a-light” for tinder. The pebble had been buried in the grave of a child.

Want to know more about the meaning of the poem? Read it on The Guardian.

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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