STONES
AMNESTY

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away a handsome prince of poetry travelled down from Manchester to bless the Poetry Garden in the Nettlefold Hall.

It was a sad yet beautiful day; it was a day when a poetry king from a land even further afield had passed away. That king's mother was a librarian, too, they say. The good people of West Norwood lit a fire, cooked some food, and sang; and a line of poetry to honour the dead king was painted on the floor of that garden.

But all was not well, and within a few short weeks of that generous and well-made act, robbers and villains, thieves and brigands swept down one hot night in July to steal the precious metal from the roof of that library. They didn't stop there. For the library nestles on the perimeter of the wonderful West Norwood Cemetery, where yet more precious metal was found and ripped from the roofs of mausoleums and the crematorium to line the pockets of the wicked and greedy copper thieves.
Rain poured through the roof, and the library books were ruined. The library doors were closed. The public was locked out. The poetry garden, with its beautiful grasses, mosaic flower containers, and lines of poetry were shut away. A curse had fallen, and the precious gift of poetry seemed to have been put to sleep – perhaps for a hundred years.

Now, as it happened, a wise and artful woman lived nearby to the cemetery, and she soon set to work on creating some of her marvelous and powerful spells. She invited her talented friends to come to the cemetery and cast their spells too; in taking inspiration from the cemetery, they each made a work of art to arouse the curiosity of people far and near, and it worked! People flocked to West Norwood to follow the art trails, and enjoy the beauty of the cemetery, to become intrigued by the legacy left to them for people long gone.
One of the artists creating the trail was a young and handsome poetry prince from up t'North, seeking his fortune on the South Bank of the Thames. He dug up the work of the twelve dead poets buried in the cemetery and gathered the most precious phrases he could find from the poems of each one. He caused the phrases to appear upon beautiful, smooth, pocket-sized stones, and he enlisted the help of a local wizard to help him to find the last resting places of each of the twelve dead poets.
Together, this West Norwood wizard and the poetry prince laid the twelve stones on the twelve graves of the twelve poets in the cemetery. Then, they guided small groups of people around the cemetery that summer, talking of the dead poets, and reading aloud from their work. The sun shone, the birds sang, the wind whispered in the leaves of the truly amazing trees, the bees buzzed and it seemed possible that all could once more be well spoken in the enchanted world of West Norwood.

But the curse was not broken completely. These beautiful, hand-shaped stones, these lovely, smooth, pocket-sized beauties, lay on the graves for a few weeks that summer, but have never been seen again since…
Some say that kind and gentle folk of West Norwood must have picked up the stones, perhaps they popped them into their pockets and took them home to keep them safe from the summer strimmers and the kicking feet of the team of young gardeners and community servers that year. Others say that some of the stones were seen creeping through the nettles and slipping into the Nettlefold Hall to get to the sanctuary of the quiet quadrangle of the Poetry Garden within. They say that the stones are waiting for West Norwood to wake up! To gather its wits! To recover from the trauma of the thefts and the closure of the library! To redeem the true value of the stones, the poetry, the artistry and …