Recollection of Chatsworth
Round a throne of nobility the rain falls
Pictures glow on gloom-clad walls
From splashing flagstone’s sky-drenched throat
Colour calls from depth remote.
The lawn drinks and makes no sound
Irrigating light trickles underground
Upon the lake shining between shores
Thousands of circles open like pores.
Trees slur their leaves
Dark moss drips clarity
From upraised and comely arm
Of a stone girl turning
From the world’s intrusion.
Still here she turns
Through many summers Time-mouthed
In this garden of long shadows
Where from high lawns the cascade begins
A stair of light, of returning days
Whose liquid chambers we have made and lost
Unaware of their miracle
Until now they approach again
Tomorrow brimming with yesterday.
Light clears, distant hills gleam
Green-woven on a golden loom
As in a picture still recalled
Where satyr and nymph
Through evening-well and shadow-bloom
Hide, chase and flee.
When dim green trees line like mourners
The golden exhaustion of stubble fields
When Demeter gleans in mute sorrow
The dusty acres, daughterless and alone
A breeze will come and wake the trees
And out of spent stillness
Foliage will stir and flow
A stream from Elysium
That long ago we once did know.
The long back of Barrow Hill
Rises slowly above level fields
The skyline trees gaze into the West
Light erasing their furthest branches
Vanishing like last utterances of land
In a wide and lucent sea.
The ground is dry beneath the trees
Where the solitary watcher
With exploring finger
Prises the small hard lumps
Of nut-casings and twigs.
The wind pours through the gates of the trees
And his thought, lifted like loosening hair
Swept and cleansed by the winnowing gusts
Now with eternity blows free and clear.
The tree is still
The spreading boughs steeped in reverie
The shadows deep, compelling
In a grave clarity of air.
How long have these motionless branches
Hung here in wrapt contemplation
In solemn meditative puzzling
In this garden where few come
Where nothing troubles the sanctuaried air.
Down by the Pond
Where the willow fronds are hung
That sift the summer’s teeming air
And catch the truant sun
Where still hidden water
Extends their plunging grace
Like slow cascade of thought
Descending time and space
Where through the floating years
Of coloured leaf decay
A fish in a sunbeam gleams
Like long forgotten, lustrous day.
Where the willow fronds are hung
In wild overgrown shade
Where the patches of sun open and close
Like breathing mouths of Hades.
Chloris is caught in mid flight
Her head turned to her amorous pursuer
Wonder softens her fearful alarm
From the primitive she wakens into charm.
Flowers push from her mouth
Her own self pulled from bewildered lips
In the first ecstacy.
Modest prenuptial bud
Forced open by Flora
Blossom of pleasure and pain
Bride of the warm breeze
Wreathing her smiles of sun and rain.
In the depths of the country
In the soft grey of un-mown fields
A crop of joy is sown
Heedless of hedges, on the wind blown.
Strange that in all beauty
There is such strong reproach
In a single flower in a field of grain
We see our beloved blow like flame
When whole fields change colour
The heart chokes, such a wrath of love
A single life would quickly drain.
Land changes into myth and fable
Dragons can walk and a knight be seen
On a white, slow-pacing horse
Crossing the fields in his armour’s sheen.
Deep are our hearts, old the desire
When poppies burn the quiet acres
A joyful dread, a purging fire.
End of a Dry Spell
Beyond those roofs the violet sky
Brings to parched mortar
The promise of a sigh,
Cement and inertia
Saturate and bloom with sense
As the influence of the sea
Like a lover missed
Comes with soft smiling lips
To teach these leaves moist history.
Birth of Venus
The woman that rises
Is lovely as May
Braids of hair loosening
She comes across the bay
Her eyes, flowers of ocean
Fair with the promise
Of perfect summer’s day.
Breezes her companions
Their kindred limbs entwined
From wine-brushed mouths wanton
Blow bud and full-blown flower
Language chaste and amorous
Fit for heaven’s daughter
Born of light and ocean
Approaching the shore.
The dark land draws near
She steps from shell to sand
The chaste Hour runs to her
And Spring her form enfolds.