Magnus 900

The Inspiration of St Magnus

Go to your knees


Magnus and the Crow




Egilsay, Magnus 900, martyrdom, Orkney, poems, Gabrielle Barnby, 2017

Go to your knees

Go to your knees.
The squat, cold earth will hold you.

Go to your knees.
Let weight be borne by hip socket.

Go to your knees.
Decide place and time.

Go to your knees.
Reveal the long-sealed soft spot.

Go to your knees.
Let belly and balls hang from ribs.

Go to your knees.
than I, lower.

Go to your knees.
Pray for the strength.

Go to your knees.
Just for a moment.

Go to your knees.
than I, lower.

The axe
rises and falls

Go to your knees.
For us, cowards that stand.

Go to your knees.
Go to your knees.


George and Magnus
throwing stones at the sea.

No crows today,
simply gone.

Sit on a boulder
by the shore,
kindred spirits.

ponder on the
soul’s stirrings.

‘Will you bide
a bit longer?’
‘No. I am ready to go.’

The rope of love grows thicker,
the embrace tighter.

Senseless this spending time apart,
inevitable though
the goodbye.

Dust your boots,
walk the road.

Go together,
on a bright breeze,
someone is waiting.

Magnus and the Crow

Closer, inspect the funeral plumage,
observe a cosmos hung with jewels.

The dawn and dusk intend no harm
yet wingbeats burst in your chest.

It was a mercy for the eyeless, tongueless lamb.
Oh, faultless, innocent crows.

Crow-beggar, crow-thief, crow-king,
it’s merely a moment of surrender.



Nothing but mud sculpted by rain and wind,
turd-mounded, slimy, untouchable, rank ground.
A deep depression lies on the mucky ill-lit land and mind.
Hollow traffic,
worldwide dementia
for a demented race
who see in bleak and soon to be bleaker earth,
who see in utter irrefutable endings
the vulgar, bursting membrane
and crowning of hope
in a single sharp beak of green.


Clouds brushed by dawn
while starlings timber earthward
unworthy they rise.

Egilsay, St Magnus, 900, Orkney, Gabrielle Barnby, poems, 2017