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by Michael Rivière


De L'Election de son Sepulcre

To end here, in this region
Long seemed appropriate
To one who has made of it
Almost religion.

Ostensibly, all's well.
The city I still love
(Am proud to be native of
And provincial)

Thrives, orderly, well-planned;
And round it, still some rare
Country houses where
More than the land

Is farmed, quiet halls and manors
That have, in metaphor,
Stood two millennia
As lamp-bearers:

Places Xenophon
Or Horace would have recognised,
Or Ronsard, as civilised,
Or Addison -

As Hoveton and Barton are,
And Bixley; and further from home,
Somerleyton and Raveningham
And Westacre.

But the heart it is
Dies first, man's and the State's.
Hand, province articulates,
While metropolis,

Thrombotic, stiff, infected
With late Roman disease -
Courage and arteries
Alike infected.....

It's Spring. The warmth and rain
Re-energize corn and cattle.
Goth, Sassanid and Vandal
Furbish again

Their sparkling frontiers;
And the psychoses here
Cyclically recur,
In guilt , and tears.

The Zeitgeist can't, like Nature,
Turn it's own corpse to grass.
The dying culture has
No certain re-culture.

What is this heritage?
A parishioner's; a refugee's;
Or else mined-out resources,
Heartland's old age.

So, the clock is set
For someone else's turn.
I can't teach, or learn,
What's not learnt yet,

Nor have heart left to try.
Let it fade into air,
This unresolved affair
Of Now and I.

Norfolk Poems




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