Poem: A Norfolk Spring Trio #2

Posted by RDN under RDN's poems on 15 March 2017

These Norfolk Spring Trio poems are:

#1 Blackthorn Winter
#2 Church and Copse
#3 Norfolk, UK, The Universe

This is: #2 Church and Copse

Norfolk Spring Trio #2 Church and Copse
Richard D North

This is a scene formed
when young men
with hot potatoes
in their pockets
spliced saplings into hedges,
and most of them believed
in God, Christ
and Divine Right
and all the rest of it –
more or less.

Ivy vines assault the oaks,
seeming to feel no seasons,
clothing their victims
as an infantryman’s great coat
might in winter –
indifferent
to whether the life within
thrives or not –
only to be inherited
by a tramp in summer.

Massive dark pines
along the lines of fields
seem black
but sequester to deepest green.

They are sentinel;
each a little battered
and the line almost ragged,
like Singer Sargent’s
gas-blinded soldiers.

Approached by these soldierly tree lines
and hedges,
bridal in the spring,
there is Barton Turf church,
in its own
informal arboretum,
disdaining to be aristocratic
but attaining grandeur nonetheless.

Classy old
St Michael and All Angels,
bright and bone-cold,
quietly boasts –
it shields and displays –
a rood screen,
peopled
by cherubims and kings,
all glamorous and expressive,
and mostly spared by the Puritans
in a moment of carelessness.

These holy figures
parade where
there have been so many
processions
for beginnings
and joinings and endings.

Close by the church,
equally composed,
there is
its temporal
complement:
a Victorian vicarage
a proper gentleman’s home,
fit for scholarship and prayer,
perhaps for hunting
and nature writing
and the rearing of a huge brood
to raise the rafters

These two houses,
God’s and man’s,
are surrounded by
familial trees,
more than a copse,
more than a few individuals,
nothing solitary,
nothing crowded.
close but not massed.

Mighty but composed
in this terrain,
of man and spirit,
the trees seem
somehow painted as much as planted.

Some may hold an uninterrupted
line of descent
from the end of the ice age,
seed and season tracing back
from faithless ages,
through tumult
and tedium.

Others maybe rode in,
cosseted in
a seed-man’s catalogue
or grown to infancy
in a nursery.

One sees them,
planted after breakfast
by the rectory’s
busy scholar – or
his man, or the sexton –
and pondered-over by any of them
with pipe and tumbler.

And the ensemble
of brick and stone
and glass and tile
and these show-trees
is moored to the rest of England,
to the ploughed fields
de-stoned
and tilthed for potatoes,
and to the village and
and holiday homes
and garages
and mini marts run by Asians
and well-spoken cooperatives
and boatyards
and soggy carr
and withy patches.

This England of Ayckbourn and Leigh
and HE Bates and Rod Liddle,
and Housman and Hardy
and Kipling and Nigel Farage,
is moored to
the church
and rectory
and their dependent trees
by the flayed hedges
and the folorn pines
and by defiant oaks.

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