The Whit-Horn is Calling by John Lanyon



John Lanyon lives in West Oxfordshire where he works as a gardener, linguist, musician and writer. He is approximately 25% of the poetry quartet The Four Wordsmen ( John is excited by the secret lives of words, the play between the animate and inanimate world, the spirit of places. He thinks a poem has a kind of DNA and if you can find the first piece the rest will follow. It’s detective work.  Tea helps.





















Four walls are four too many
the road too hard
people too much

Everyone needs a forest

Come meet the spirits of
hart and hind
boar, hare and wolf

Come seek the nightjars at dusk

Come feel the heat rising
from the charcoal-burners’ kilns

Come stalk the ghost of Gilmore
coming home from Van Dieman’s Land

Come heal your eyes
at the Iron Well

Come meet your sweetheart
at the Forest Fair

Come to the hidden places
make love there

Wychwood, they would steal you
plough you
develop you

Wychwood, I find you vulnerable
I find you hungry
for the press of my step

You will never be familiar

That is the whole point.



John Lanyon


* Traditional to some Oxfordshire villages, the Whit-Horn or Peeling-Horn is made from twisted willow bark pinned together with thorns. It was blown to announce the annual Whitsun hunt, the only time the villagers were allowed to hunt in the former royal forest of Wychwood in West Oxfordshire.