YES, AND BACK AGAIN
Qui part trop tôt revient trop tard
(Alfred de Musset)
i: Victoria Gardens, Truro, 1919
Gaitered against the cold, going in terror
of the dark firs taller than fathers, knowing
the height and mystery of their bird-voluble tossing:
chill growing things, fierce calling things, inhuman
world: and a child, I, small as a shoe's voice, in it.
Oh dangerous giant escalade of gardens,
all the hill's toil and at the top no comfort -
only the strange tanks, terrible as not being born;
the alien glass and, sparse in the treacly green,
red and gold that is living weed-covered web-clad,
preciously sheltered from the naked trees
and their lost voice in the wind that could blow me away.
Rich bodied stone the small stone bedded stream
preserved and planted green of bank and bough
still honeyed by the fixative sunlight now
as then impassive and unparting now as then
memorial without promise but a theme
an inter-time or turning back again
the scape not undone but by restoration
blazoned anew as the drops change yet not
the stream the dynasties of lead the plot
of interlacing raining or of light and never
the play the interplay gold celebration
in green white hazel theatres playing forever
on altered flesh the altering hours relight
all scattered waterdrops continuum
of river selves and city of years that come
unparted so repassing echoing and so still
the pictures though they travel yet they write
one manifold in peace of time and will.
iii: Return Journey: Cornwall, 1959
Every greeting says goodbye already;
every meeting is the last and only;
the sliding Present gives the Past new faces.
Remembered rivers die in waterdrops;
the blown dust shivers all an imaged hill;
the known field yearly is destroyed by flowers.
Time cannot hide in hastening calendars,
nor place abide on the dissolving map;
the face of Being is itself a season.
How shall we speak, when words undo each other?
Land that you seek is never there again;
and he who would return, dies by returning.