Sweet paradise

Sweet paradise of childhood,
Oh, truly happy land,
Where friends in sea and sunshine
Across the golden sand
Of childhood’s endless summers
Go running hand in hand.

Jersey 1980

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

Mediterranean

Come with me to the brow of the hill,
The wind in the pines is singing still
And the sun is high in the sky.
From the top we’ll get a glimpse of the sea,
Of the misty islands of Arcady
And the distant mountains high.

There lies the ocean the Argonauts crossed,
Where Ulysses and his ship were tossed
For ten full winters long,
Turned into swine by the witch Circe,
Lulled by the fruit of the lotus tree
And the winged sirens’ song.

Over the sea on the Southern side
Are the lands of Africa, dark and wide,
And the fountains of the Nile.
There on its shores in the burning sun,
To the myriad insects metallic hum,
Basks the watchful crocodile.

Away to the West, beyond the trees,
Stand the mighty Pillars of Hercules
Where the wild Atlantic flows.
And on this side, from their Carthage home
Came Hannibal’s elephants bound for Rome
Through the shining Alpine snows.

So come with me to the brow of the hill,
The wind in the pines is singing still
And the sun is high in the sky.
From the top we’ll get a glimpse of the sea,
Of the misty islands of Arcady
And the distant mountains high.

(Camping in Frejus 1980)

The Music Box

Daddy returned from Holland
With a music-box for me.
He pulled a string and from inside,
As clear as clear could be,
A little tune came tumbling out
Like moonlight on the sea.

I held it up against my ear
As I lay still in bed.
The moonlight filled my tiny room,
The music filled my head,
And when at last I fell asleep,
I dream of it instead.

February 1980

Wild Strawberries

My favourite spot in the garden
Is where the strawberries grow,
Where the marguerites hang overhead
And the hungry blackbirds go.

There in the early morning,
When the grass is wet with dew,
I join the hungry blackbirds
And eat the strawberries too.

For Bessie – June 1980

My secret

I have a secret for you,
Let me whisper in your ear,
You mustn’t tell another soul,
I don’t want them to hear.

Just bend a little lower
And turn your face this way,
Now shut your eyes and listen
To what I have to say:

Of all the people in the world,
Of things and creatures too,
The one I love the best of all
Is somebody called You!

1980