Waterloo Field

Deep, deep the sleep of heroes laid to rest
In hollows watered by their youthful blood.

Deep, deep the silence on the smoking plain
Where horse and rider will not rise again.

Deep, deep the ploughshare’s furrow like a wound
Across their common grave in fallow ground.

Deep, deep the yellow of the ripened corn
Which falls before the reaper’s scythe at dawn.

Deep, deep the snow whose icy funeral pall
Bedecks the dead and slowly covers all.


To Samuel Palmer

Now breaks the snowy may upon the hedge
And Spring the orchard fills with waves of white.
High sails the full-frown moon across the skies
And floods the dreaming sheepfolds with its light.
The early shepherd plays upon his pipe
And calls the distant dawn across the night.

In Shoreham’s fields the mystic grain still grows,
The wheatsheaves ripen in the August sun,
The spirit whispers in the sacred groves
Of lives well ordered and of work well done.
In valleys thick with corn dead Virgil lives
And through your visions speaks to everyone.

October 1980


So old and winter-worn
The apple trees of Girton,
Each ivied trunk inhabited
By female spirits, resting
After battles but not sleeping.
Soft dews of summer days,
Anoint their tired limbs,
Refresh and re-invest
Heroic minds.
The struggle is not won
And from the aged wood
New flowers must spring.

28 July 1989