Each year I watch the meadows edge further and further into the road. During the summer, wild sweet peas move towards one another from either side. The ever-present moss of this part of the world has worked its way into the cracks of the asphalt. In their seasons, swallows, thrushes, and warblers skim across the meadow grasses.
How long before the road vanishes? Will I be around to see it?
Rose Bay Willow Herb
The flower of our times, the gipsy of hedgesides
Has turned the squatter of bomb, demolition
And building sites, following machines
As the gull the plough. Still in Cullen's Planting
It crowds the gaps in the system of blackberry bushes
And covers your coat in Autumn with the silken kisses
Of its seeds or on a windy day
Thousands of parachutes in exodus
Blow across Partridge Hill; it marches in lanes
Along the hedgesides most recently cleared.
But now in towns and cities, climbing heaps
Of dusty rubble and perching in cavities
Of broken walls, it sweeps to confrontations,
The Nature for ever at our cultured elbow,
Ready, should we make a fatal mistake,
To grow in the bulldozer's scoop and through the telly.
Stanley Cook, Woods Beyond a Cornfield: Collected Poems (Smith/Doorstop Books 1995).
H. C. Bryer
"79 1-2 High Street, Southampton, with Norman Chimney" (1950)
I do not offer my anecdote as some sort of metaphor for, say, Mortality, the Implacability of Time, or the Passage of Civilizations. "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Or something like that. No. Rather, I am moved by the matter-of-factness with which the World goes about its business. The impassive persistence of life is a wonderful thing.
River Colne at Wakefield Road, Huddersfield
Marshalled into Huddersfield
Between the BR Manchester line and A62,
The Colne sidesteps the jumble and nearly new
At the centre of the fifteenth largest town,
Swings wide and steers towards this bridge,
Under trees that were it left alone
A hundred years, it would undermine.
Along this reach, over its series of weirs
It combs itself clean from centuries' pollution
By people's lives. The semi-darkness squeezes
Out a solitary duck, white
And veering about at the head of its wake.
Stanley Cook, Ibid.
Eliot Hodgkin, "The Haberdashers' Hall, 8 May 1945" (1945)
"Earth never grieves!" (Thomas Hardy, "Autumn in King's Hintock Park.") This is not a cry of despair. It is simply a statement of lovely fact. The sweet peas have now shrivelled and fallen. But they are far from finished. The warblers, thrushes, and swallows have departed. But only for a spell. The moss goes on doing what it does. We humans fit in somewhere. For a spell.
Wood by a Road
Scythed grass and nettles blanch at the side
Of the seedy pomp of the late summer wood
And in the misfortunes of a risky world
I admire how these trees succeed.
Oaks and silver birches cup their hands
Above the sparking flowers of creeping plants
Never intending to emerge to the wind
Or the damp that drags the cobwebbed bent-grass down.
No birds sing but a thrush with a worm
Tacks the path with his prints in a running stitch
And a rabbit puts a distance between us;
Moths stay painted on hawthorn bushes.
All that a wood can do, the wood has done:
The dark green leaves extend their hands
Indicating nothing left to hide;
Everything prospers on the brink of decline.
Stanley Cook, Ibid.
Gerald Gardiner (1902-1959), "Norfolk Brick Kiln"