Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Months: August


The poems for March, April, May, June and July in this sequence were posted on 24 February 2014, 21 March, 20 April, 24 May and 20 June.
The hay is baled; the blackbird’s liquid call
Moistens the meadows; like earthenware the sky
Projects raw heat and soused with dust the tall
Hollyhock totters, though the thistle, sly,
Shrugs defiance, flaunting its purple bonnet.
Blackspot swarms on the rose leaves; lavender
Protests with scent like a sumptuous sonnet,
But among roots slugs gorge juicy provender.
Ruthless, the sky blackens – cats go to ground;
Thunder like granite cracking, lightning stark
As judgement, scourge with rain-hard wind the drowned
Buddleia, gangling in the abandoned park.
Later, squirrels daredevil in the high trees
Seeking berries. Breakneck growth has reached stasis;
Pale, reluctant men are squeamish to seize
The year’s last chance for some anabasis.
Instead, the harvest. Combines clatter in the fields
Engulfing barley and rapeseed. Rabbits
Squat, stupefied by the heat-dust which builds
Over the slaughter, shroud to man’s habits.
After the heat, the evening silence is long;
Jigsaw pieces of pigeon-grey cloud drift
Breathlessly. A nervy spider’s web among
Tight-leaved privets displays a jackdaw’s gift –
A feather. Fireweed strips its seed heads to husk,
Purple in sidings in the humid slow dusk.
© August 2012

Thursday, 17 July 2014

From a College Window

A.C. Benson (1862-1925) was Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge from 1915-1925. He was one of the many talented children of E.W. Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, and his wife, Mary. (The children included E.F. Benson, author of the Mapp and Lucia novels, and Fr R. H. Benson, the Catholic convert.)
   A. C. Benson's civilized essays, redolent of Victorian and Edwardian days, are a delight to read. His easy knowledge and loquacity, combined with self-deprecation, put most of our contemporary "controversialists" - nearly all of them influenced by social Marxism - to shame (although his work and stance are vulnerable to Cardinal Newman's strictures on the English gentleman).
   I picked up Benson's volume of essays, From a College Window, by chance in a second-hand shop and greatly enjoyed it. I wrote this sonnet in respectful tribute.


(A. C. Benson)

The drowsy fire, the shadowed room, shrug off
The autumn chill; the gyp bows his retreat;
Tapping glibly his eye-glass, the don with soft
Decision strikes through a freshman’s gauche conceit.

Later, dinner in hall; tomorrow chapel:
Gowned beneath plain windows indulgent scholars
Will nod; the timid chaplain’s black-scarfed grapple
With Erastian good sense will shew God’s favours.

Mild duty done, that afternoon the men
In the Common will jostle like muddy cattle,
Their games a path to a Secretary’s room
Or parsonage loud with a singing kettle.

Drifting, the don starts up at his student’s jest:
“The Decalogue – a matter of good taste.”

© July 2012