Litany

By the silent river and its dark shine
under the bare sun; by the meadow’s ripe

 

grasses and breeze that blew a flimsy mob

of travellers about its flowers; by the hub

 

that was an elm, I recall, and so tall,

so visible in all directions; by more

 

than we could count of nettle and thistle

on bare-legged walks and the bramble’s hostile

 

thorns; by the cattle crowd on their quiet hill

as they pulled at the grass and ramblers watched it

 

hiking over the fields; by the barbed wire

fence, the stile and the five-barred gate I swore

 

I’d jump one of these days and on the roadway,

winding down into the village where sane

 

valley feet trod; by the church yews that stood

now out of their time and no longer stirred

 

their worshippers; by all these, we kept close

and made our quiet way all on our own.

 

 

© John Stuart