Regrets for the De-population of Rural Districts


I have known villages grow suddenly
from dust and stand upright in the air
with comfortable homes grouped round a spire;
and in the fields strong women bending
down to coarse toil to nourish unborn women.
Whilst in close gardens, languid with flowers’ fragrance,
girls linger on close lawns for unknown happenings,
tearing a petal in long shining fingers.
So waiting till plum blossom, apple blossom,
and white pear blossom are fallen down to earth,
and the white moon fallen.
Then a heap of dust
that once was named, loved, and familiar
lies unsubstantial in the eternal sunlight.
Whence faint thoughts,
stirring far down in twilight consciousness,
move dark-boughed yew-trees over graves and stars.

from Collected Poems (Carcanet 1991), copyright © Edgell Rickword 1991, by permission of Carcanet Press Ltd. Recording used by permission of the BBC

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