For The Gathering I chose to publish my choice of seventy poems.
Here is one of my favourites:
There were flies in their droves on the windows
Their buzzing lay thick in the air
A shambles of daisies and hemlock
Crept over the lawns, but my pair
Of young lovers had put in their offer
And Westcote’s old manor house lay
With its history still in the making.
They took on its burden to play
Happy families under the chimneys
Long summers of love in the fields
While hundreds of visitors stayed there
And many more offered their shields.
And twenty years later, each corner
Now polished and burnished and fine
Has been sold to the highest of bidders
Whose voices can echo and climb
To those beautiful rafters where bats hang –
A species as rare as the hills
Of the Cotswolds whose gentlest of curlings
Floats into the sky and then spills.
I remember those flies on the windows
The mulberry tree on the lawn
The pool house rebuilt to perfection:
But I never once saw them at dawn
I’d have loved to stay over to hear it –
The chorus of birdsong and dew
When the field-mice scurry for cover
And gardens speak up for the few
Of the earliest risers and shakers
Who work from sweet dawn until night:
But I always had orders to vanish
They needed me well out of sight.
There were flies with their families clustered
Among the dead wasps on the floor
But they brought in some children and chickens
And servants and cars and what’s more
They fed every song bird each morning
They lit all those candles at night
The music and dancing continued
Until they took elderly flight.
So now I remember excitement
The thrill of my visits down lanes
That wound curving and narrow and green-leafed
To be greeted by sparkling clean panes:
By those windows both ancient and modern
Who look out on to summer’s green ways
And I wish them the gentlest of futures
And farewell to those long bygone days.