Peter Stiles: ‘Lark Ascending’, ‘Mount Athos’ and ‘Tribute to Ralph Vaughan Williams’

Lark Ascending

There is a space between desire
where sound filters thoughts
and pure landscapes shine.
A bird, a sky, a summer,
the rolling English hills
and dulcet memories.
The Yorkshire Dales that day.
A violin notes my reverie,
with glimpses of a stream,
a Roman road, a foursome,
in silence, then in awe.
The lark ascends
in traceries of flight,
catching my breath with song
then out of sight.

Peter Stiles


Mount Athos
(for Scott Cairns)

Searching for a place where life is prayer,
where heyschia endures through night and day,
and prayer gives way to sleep and then to prayer,
I read your book, memorable Mount Athos moments,
mystérion ever before your thoughts.

In the hard walks and the cold nights,
you found a brilliance in the darkness,
a balm for your bruised travelling,
uncovering monastic treasures for the soul.

In this Lenten light I long to learn
where I can find that pilgrim’s place of peace,
a mountain in this mind of sighs
to lift my hungry heart to things divine.

Peter Stiles


Tribute to Ralph Vaughan Williams

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
evokes the inexplicable.
Reeling, young composers walked
the streets of Gloucester after its debut
trying to capture through that night
the meaning in its acuity,
its touching tonalities.
Something like a blind
suddenly opened to sunlight.

That autumn concert in England
is clear to me today.
But as I listen to this recording
the message in these cadences,
sonorous and spacious,
still evades me,
teasing me into reflection.

Peter Stiles

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