Away, away

The geraniums are in
And the logs are piled high,
The chestnuts are gathered
And across the grey sky
The wild ducks are flying
Away, away,
We’ll come back in springtime,
Some day, some day!

Goldberg Variations

She was seated before me
Listening intently
The lines of her fair neck
Curving so gracefully
Down to golden shoulders.
But it was her long hair,
Plaited nonchalantly,
Which so distracted me.
From a thick auburn crown,
Three separate tresses
Set out resolutely
On their downward journey
To the small of her back,
Meandering slowly
In time to the music,
Now above, now below,
A rare relationship
Of three equal suitors,
Intimate, enfolding,
Sinuous, caressing,
Each lover approaching
The other obliquely
With the same strategy,
Now from left, now from right,
Abandoning thin
Sacrificial wisps
En route,
Each fusing finally,
Molten sand, copper, gold,
All capitulating,
Exhausted totally,
In the baroque coda
Of a black silk ribbon.

Written in St Gallen, Austria, during the music festival in Schloss Gallenstein.
August 1994

Flatford Swan

Calm swan of Flatford
Beneath my window,
Feathers stirred softly
In the upstream breeze,
With us who journey
On life’s white rapids,
Share your detachment,
Your serenity.

Flatford Mill, Suffolk
30 July 1989

Photographs at seventy

In an old Photograph
Looking out at me
From the stiff line of children
I see the boy I was.
He plays in the streets
Of my childhood
And sits at my desk
Swinging my boots
And carving my name,
With a precious penknife.

Down the years
He runs freely
In the alleys of my mind
As though he lived there.
If I bumped into him
In the corridor
Of some demolished house
Would he recognise me
And reach up to kiss me?

Somewhere in France

After the picnic
By a cherry tree,
We climbed to the top
Of a chalky hill
And over the brow
To cornfields beyond.
There, in sun and wind
We walked and unwound,
Rarest of moments
Completely alone,
Save for a skylark
Ascending above.
I longed to bed you
In ripening corn
But held back, restrained
By foolish taboos
And by our children
Waiting back there
Under the tree.
The thought of it
Fed my mind and body
For hours afterwards.

26 July 1986

My new sister

My sister’s name is Lucy
And she’s only four months old,
She coos and gurgles all day long
And is quite as good as gold.

Now I’m her grown up brother,
I’m nearly two you see,
In all our games, in all we do,
Lucy will follow me!

November 1971

A song to loving

Come, greet your day and sing with me
A song to loving, come what may!
Drink in the sunlight with the wine
And our tomorrows live today!