Earthworks takes you on a journey into the unknown across current landscapes and historical locations, to learn how to live in a changing world.  Explore ancient burial chambers, disused railway lines, and iron age hill forts.  Explore garden fences, park benches, and Christmas trees.  Explore childhood, gemstones, and yourself. What will you discover?

“In ‘Earthworks’ Stewart Carswell constructs an intriguing, wild space crowded with stories and voices, where time loops back on itself and paths vanish enticingly into undergrowth. These poems are deeply rooted in a sense of place, revealing unexpected vantage points and new expanses in seemingly familiar scenes; they share the insight gained from a genuine love for and understanding of these landscapes.”

Ben Ray

Published 15th October 2021

Sample poems


I. C13

A peninsular posturing as an island
downstream and on the opposite bank
from God’s eyes in Tintern. Accessed
only via the landward hillside,
protected by screens of woodland,
Wyndcliff overlooking like a fortress.

And at the locus of the scene
stands the infirmary, or perhaps history
has shielded here a leper colony
(who can tell? who is close enough?),
the garden embedded with remedies.
Seclusion; isolation.

II. 2020

Isolation; seclusion.
Here at the border, where the saline river arcs
and farmland runs out into woodland,
Wyndcliff rises opposite like viewpoint
or lookout, its ramparts topped
with roadblocks and lockdowns.

Beside the ruined church on the English bank
of the Wye I wash my hands in the river
for 20 seconds, and kneel and offer
the only question that matters from this position:
what will it take to hold you
and to touch again across borders?

My gift for you was an acorn.
I told you to plant it
in your garden so you could always be
within reach of a forest.
So you planted it. And with time and rain,
a forest grew around your house.
Fawns graze at your door,
ferns are window frames,

and you are a neighbour
to oak. Observe the seasons
and the lessons they carry.
Collect twigs and moss
and learn to build a nest:
make it hard against the wind
but soft against the skin.
Home should be a place to return to.

Learn when it is time to let go,
and learn how to let go.
Leaves do not fall far.
Don’t be scared to let in new light.
Gather acorns, share them with your children,
and remember how small each beginning is.

Fawns do not stay, but you will find
a set of antlers each year
outside your door. Oak is a marker
for home, and marks the starting point.
Measure time in rings and anniversaries.
Always be within reach of a forest.


A trace of a temple, an outline
of a religion emerging
through the scraped-back layers
of brushed earth. A square courtyard
stone-walled and fountain-fed.
An alcove for a nymph.

In the latest trench, dark soil
has reached glinting metal buried
at the edge of the Forest: a silver torc,
a thousand years untouched,
an almost-loop like a thumb and a finger
of a god holding on around your wrist.

Here it is, the twisting silver
River Severn flat on the dark vale plain
below the hilltop temple. That same torc
magnified across open ground, broad
when the current’s surging strong,
or a delicate line at low tide.

If I wear this meander around my home
I know my home is safe and guarded
on the land under the eye of a spirit,
shielded by the arc of water
at turns gold and silver
at turns of Earth and tide.

First published in Reach Poetry

Offa's Dyke

Requisition soil.
Scoop it from a ditch,

raise it and turn the earth
against your enemies.

A narrow rampart
to mark the frontier of tolerance.

Divide land by language.
Make a border out of nothing.


Forget the origin. Forget the cause
and let borders be overrun

by bluebells. Let ramparts
degrade. Let the yew tree

entrench its thousand-year-old ambition
beneath the needless ditch and dyke.

Let a man walk the earth
and know that this is the last earth.

First published in Under the Radar