Mud hills, mud downs, swelling

through the concealing mists softly

breasting the gossamer welling

as dawn urges gently. 

High above in the thin

light a cloud is pinned by a sun

as yet invisible, but in

moments warms and is gone. 

Glimmering cliffs bind tight

a cold grey slopping sea.  White tops

curl through the shade, scattering night. 

Daybreak flickers and stops. 

It is winter.  Cold hard. 

Boulder cold.   

Unpinning flurries,

ice sharp, are clawing at the shard

of broken centuries. 

Earth turns.   

Bright brimming sun

floods in pale streams beneath

the mantle of cloud.  Dawn winds run. 

Once more through mist and heath

my valley cleaves revealed. 

Rough undulated familiar shapes

heave from shadows uncongealed. 

My vigil starts once more.

Across the mortal pain

of a hundred generations

I keep my watch.  The toilsome strain

triumph tribulation

of struggling man  -  I see. 

Know for my own.   No difference. 

The same thin chalky soil bent me,

blunted my instruments. 

Tore me.  Through earthwork rammed

flint crammed in skull and eye I know

as much, as little, blessed and damned,

the joy in blaze and snow,

the sodden seep of rain,

and laughter 

-  sudden as a fall.

And words: not your words but refrain

as apt for threat or thrall

running swift as any

that has gurgled through the ages

down these round hills,

filling many a rill to routing rage,

flowing idly across

unquenched millennia.   

It has not changed.   

Our tenderness in loss

looms lingeringly as a beacon

from your past

lighting this bare crest.

But now slow occulting clouds enfold the last

low beam from dawn's brief glow. 

Grey day spills amongst waves

drops drippingly along moist hedgerows

and forgotten graves. 

And unremembering man moves on.