The forgotten mistress of the king.

This poem by Rowan Williams has become a favourite of mine. Glory and defeat, victory and humility, all  there.



For Inna Lisnianskaya

Barefoot, down the long woodland corridors of frost,

Over the needles, walks the forgotten

mistress of the king. She smells of grapes,

candles, black furs. Of cooking smells,

and smoke in a cramped flat. She will disturb

The clinical forest air with haze

and trembling. In the shining kingdom,

in the rich winter malls, she opens for business

with a stall of odds and ends, cheap and irregular,

and scented with a lost indoors. Don’t beg,

she says, from the rich, only the poor;

Get absolution from the sinner, not the saint.


Rowan Williams


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