Friday, 21 August 2009


An evening mist invades our streets, has floated
up from the sea. Our sacred trees are blotted
giants, our lamps set back to candles glimmering.
A shimmering sheet of lead of the gods’ own hammering
hangs heaven-high behind the smudged riverside
buildings, inviting the deft hand to scratch and scribe.

Now, from the jutting sea-wall’s farthest border,
I look where shining mist combines with water
and do not glance behind but to my glory
write on the mist a song none sang before me
of an age before the ghostly moon could push
or pull and the red cliffs lay deep beneath the sludge.

Only my ear to hear the waters pulsing,
only my eye to see the ripples chasing,
only my cheek to feel the evening coolth
as water and mizzle await the fetching forth,
into the world, of lizards from the deepness
and leathern dragons from the glowing ether.

Is that the seagulls’ shriek or pterodactyls sounding?
Those splashings are they swans or limbless mammals flound’ring
In silt? And that deep rumble from the chasm
could it be some grand primordial spasm
or is it the Intercity cleaving the joyless
gloom from Penzance to Paddington via Dawlish?

Into my song a beer-can wreathed in scum
floats slowly, marks an end of my bright triumph
but does not make me doubt my hoary phantoms.
As I walk home under the teasing lanterns
the tree-gods call me proud.

Why should I listen,
I who was here before the land had risen?
When I was searching for a really good rhyme for Dawlish, it was joyless that took my fancy and I still like it well enough. There are still some of us who think that assonance fascinates, but when I contemptuously sailed past smallish as a rhyme for Dawlish I remembered the boy poet John Keats. It came to my mind that I was sailing past him, pale beneath his flowing locks and with only a couple of years left to him. Yes, he and Tom Keats are usually on the beach waving to me as I sail past Teignmouth.
Over the Hill and over the Dale
And over the Bourne to Dawlish,
Where gingerbread wives have scanty sale
And gingerbread nuts are smallish.
Tomorrow I shall discourse on The Little Egret.

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