This year there is a
Splendid crop of cow parsley
In St Peter’s Valley.
I know you think it funny
That I should love this
Tall ungainly flower which
Grows head and leafy shoulders
Over scarlet campion
And ragged robin,
But its clouds of faded white
Are the saving grace
Of many a marshy field.
On summer nights at six o’clock
The cows come slowly down the lane,
Their udders hanging low with milk
And Iris leads them by their ropes.
There’s Daisy, Sue and Goodlands Bess,
Verbena, Violet and Rose,
And Clover out of Marigold
With velvet dewlap, honey brown.
There’s Bijou next, not yet in milk,
And Patience with the broken horn,
And last of all along the lane
Comes champion Primrose, great with calf.
They turn into the farmyard gate
Where Beauty greets them with a bark;
Off to the milking sheds they go,
Each to her stall with fresh straw laid.
The fields behind them, closely cropped,
Are left to mists and fairy rings,
While red ball sun behind the trees
Sinks slowly down into the marsh.
The pails are full, the milking done,
The churns are stacked out in the yard,
All in its place the farmyard sleeps
And dreams beneath the milky moon.
15th May 1971
At the end of their long chains
The cows lie chewing.
Surrounded by pale circles
Of closely cropped grass,
They slowly regurgitate
The morning’s grazing.
Soft eyelids blink drowsily
Over wet round eyes,
Gazing into grassy voids
Or calling up warm
Visions of stone milking sheds
Bedded with clean straw.