Monday, 27 August 2012

Fashion (Credo)

The tragedy of modern life
Is that people must be told,
For all that under Heaven is,
What’s good and what’s to like.
Fashion is a perfect scold,
We ignore her at our peril.
If any man stand up to her
He’s left out in the cold.
But Fashion is not clever,
Her head is easily turned.
Though cheaply won
With wiles and flattery,
Beware her infamous moods.
Imagined slights
And dictums spurned
Soon excite displeasure.
What wisdom may we elicit,
In answer to such calls
As: “What to do?”
And: “How to live?”
Do what’s right (as Father said),
And hold your head up high,
In spite of all that befall us
There’s nothing else for it.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Walnut Tree

For not much more
Than the price
Of a rangy automobile
We bought a walnut tree,
Which, helpfully, came bundled
With antique country cottage,
And sun-favoured garden.
We scarce knew what we had,
For a thrilling decade or two:
Venerable, companionable,
This Earthly benediction.
With dimly-remembered
Boy-scout skills I spliced
Hemp rope and cut oak plank
To make, dangling on
Outstretched blackened limb
A high swing, and then to push
Each new startled child
Into endless shimmering
Mountain blue.
From tender buds in Spring,
It unfurled limpid leaves, new-made,
In bright, fanning, umbrella clumps,
And thrust out rich, swelling nuts,
Erotic, prolific,
Cased in smooth round husks,
Nature’s joyous, naked seed.
How prettily it dappled
The West-leaning, end-of-day light,
To carelessly bestow such favours
As seemed fit. In Autumn we waded
Ankle-deep in soft, moist beds
Of copper-coloured, mouldering leaves,
To gather trays of tender fruit
In deftly-fingered husks.

Until one year quite suddenly,
For every sinuous, anxious branch
There came nor bud, nor leaf, nor nut.
It dawned on us quite slowly,
Our beloved tree was dead.
By clumsy human hand
It may have been (it mattered not),
When conspirators and assassins,
With JCB in adjoining field,
Diverted a watercourse. Yet,
How yearningly we thus decried
Such sheer, pitiable folly
As is human wishes.
“Elle est belle,” let out the mill owner
Genuflecting, as it were,
As full-girth trunk rolled heavily
To sweet-scented, saw-dusty floor.
With consummate skill he cut,
A fragrant stack of wide, wide handsome boards,
In whose dark and swirling grain
With eddies, like richest marble cake,
I exulted: this beneficence, this Afterlife.