The Thinking Poet


Music of the Eye

Sitting in this sun-dappled street, late afternoon

We rest outside Elm House.

Suddenly everything coalesces

As though perception’s sponge is squeezed to yield its essence,

The quintessence of the aura of things.

Time is made free of temporality.

Things are seen as from a camera obscura.

Here displayed is music of the eye played bravura:

Uffington’s horse, three millennia grazing;

And from time-spun mounds

A patchwork of heaved earth and dotted homesteads horizon-spread;

Browsing black-faced sheep turned towards a wind from the west;

And at the inn below the Manger,

The habitual corner table where the sun always shines

And where marauding wasps purloin our wine;

Through a squeaky gate, and up a crushed clunch path

To where peace for centuries has been preserved,

And all the fears of years are laid to rest;

A level-crossing that once was:

Our kiddies jumped for joy as leviathans approached,

And the signalman, waving from his signal-box,

Would smile at us as we waved back.

Past and present held in fine balance,

Neither movement to one side or the other

But held in a fastness without time.

Now, in this village, a resurrection:

The dead are made to rise.

Sprightly, she scurries to the Co-op,

He, beaming bonhomie, departs from the Crown,

Children clutching ice-cream cones

Tumble from the thatched corner shop.

Joyfully and gratefully I grasp it all,

Embrace its lastingness like a peace preserved.

Quieter now the village since the bypass came.

Quieter now and wanting for the voices that are hushed,

Voices long since gone,

Like the gnarled old elm.

And yet not gone;

Resting here by Elm House I’m gazing at the tree

Whose aging never can be rushed for me.