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The John Harris Society.

Sunday 9 September 2007 16:30-17:00 (Radio 4 FM)

Repeated: Saturday 15 September 2007 23:30-0:00 (Radio 4 FM)

Judith Palmer presents a series about enthusiasts who meet to enjoy and promote their favourite poetry.

The undervalued poetry of a Cornish miner is brought to light by a small but dedicated group of admirers, including a mainstream poet.

Extract from The Mine by John Harris.

Hast ever seen a mine? Hast ever been
Down in its fabled grottoes, wall' with gems,
And canopied with torrid mineral-belts,
That blaze within the fiery orifice?
Hast ever, by the glimmer of a lamp,
Or the fast waning taper, gone down, down
Towards the earth's dread centre, where wise men
Have told us that the earthquake is conceived,
And great Vesuvias hath his lava-house,
Which burns and burns for ever, shooting forth
As from a fountain of eternal fire?
Hast ever heard, within this prison-house,
The startling hoof of fear? The eternal flow
Of some dread meaning whispering to thy soul?

The Hill-Top by John Harris

But here I am, with heaven above my head,
O'errun with beauty, and great thoughts like ships
Gliding across the waters of my soul;
The earth below me like a teeming mart.
So renovated, so refreshed am I,
If I had wings I'd flash into the air,
And strive with all the marvel of a sage
To grasp this growing grandeur. In the woods
At summer twilight, I have heard strange songs
Travelling among the shadows, and my strength
Grew as the notes waxed louder, till I felt
The sinews of a giant, and strode on
With supple limbs through seas of solemn sound,
Feeling no weariness, forgetting pain,
And followed by an angel. But this height
Brings organ swells, and crash of lifted trumps,
And sounding odes from choirs whose wings are flame,
Whose harps are moulded in the fires of love,
That I grow big with blessing.

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