I was walking down a backstreet in Stroud and I was stopped by a schoolgirl and she said "You're Laurie Lee ain't ya?", and I said, "Yes". She said, "Did you write a poem called 'Apples'?". I said, "Yes, why?" and she said, "Our teacher made us learn it!" I had to bribe her with a Mars Bar before she'd let me go. She was a cross, a very cross girl. But I'm going to read this poem 'Apples' which "teacher made us learn."
Behold the apples’ rounded worlds:
juice-green of July rain,
the black polestar of flowers, the rind
mapped with its crimson stain.
The russet, crab and cottage red
burn to the sun’s hot brass,
then drop like sweat from every branch
and bubble in the grass.
They lie as wanton as they fall,
and where they fall and break,
the stallion clamps his crunching jaws,
the starling stabs his beak.
In each plump gourd the cidery bite
of boys’ teeth tears the skin;
the waltzing wasp consumes his share,
the bent worm enters in.
I, with as easy hunger, take
entire my season’s dole;
welcome the ripe, the sweet, the sour,
the hollow and the whole.
from Selected Poems (Penguin, 1985), used by permission of PFD (www.pfd.co.uk) on behalf of the author. Recordings used by permission of the BBC.