Literary Norfolk Header and Logo

The Tower

by Francis Webb

Come on Easter Sunday to our Poor Meadow.
Here is a childhood: the florin of sun aglow.
A twopenny rook dipping home like Bleriot,
The elm's engraved and hypostatic shadow,
And the river wickered with working profiles of an eddy.
You are young, young, cradling the sacred bowl
And knife of flint. Ages leap in your body
And flood into the unselfconscious soul.

I alight here beside you like that old lag the crow
Telling you to go now and never return
That today may lie quiet against ages when you burn
In vats of the cruel smelter - only go now, go -
When all things are full of labour; and the mind
Fretting and hammering at itself will drag
A landscape, a universe, to be refined
Out of its nature, drifting in rotten slag.

Yes, I have seen Costessey in every weather
Enslaved and bowing in the rubbing heat
Upon the abrasive sand of self-deceit
At the time of gathering the stones together;
Seen sun, tree, river, all distorted, straining
With lever and pulley; the dead gutted bird
Lolloping in the wind; the mad process gaining:
I could not stand and feel, nor write a word.

And why do I look from you at this dead thing?
It cannot hold your innocence, nor your eye.
Out of the quicksands and the anarchy
I see a strangeness stretch and flap a wing:
This tower of a red stone, eroded whistling ghost
Where bush and grasses cross themselves and cower
And juvenile pigeons play at being lost
And the airman's initials rest one single hour.

What frightens you must be a ruin, and waste.
But on this Easter Monday I will drink
Your Costessey to the dregs. and likely think
To find in these red stones the selfsame taste.
For out of my soul one hundred times before
Has leapt a ghostly thing, bare in its power,
As faith, and to the ceaseless, causeless war
Brought truce, bearing itself like this old tower.

(Appears by kind permission of Claudia Snell.)
Norfolk Poems




Supported by Norfolk County Council logoSupported by Norfolk Tourism


Home | About Us | Advertise on Literary Norfolk

©Cameron Self 2007-2014                                                                                                                Hosted by UK Web.Solutions Direct