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Note:Francis Bennion sadly died on 28 January 2015.

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Poetry

POEMOTIONS

Text of book

Part Two (continued)

Humanity

Start of page 67 in the book

Squire Theobald at Michaelmas

A tale of long ago

 

Close to the heart of the western shire
there stands a mansion and there lives a Squire.
He lives in a fashion you could well surpass;
his choicest crop is but coarsest grass,
rank and high as the grass that waves
over the Squire's ancestors' graves.

 

Now those fortunate sons of his race
have ceased to pursue their gallant pace.
They kept rich acres and they owned a town
but lie in the churchyard, six feet down.
Now their ways are scarce recalled
save in the heart of Squire Theobald.

 

As he sits with vacant stare
in a high old shabby straight-backed chair
his inmost ear hears the quiet clear voice
of one whose face was his heart's dear choice -
a voice long stilled, but remembered well,
a face whose beauty is fadeless still.

 

Now is the time when he feels the wound,
the time when Michaelmas flowers abound.
Then was his joyous wedding day
and a year from then the funeral lay.
She left no image but her canvas smile;
no son, no heir, for the time of trial.

 

Thus Theobald's thoughts in their wonted flow
travel and bring the white head low;
while his agéd servant stands by the door
and the faithful hounds snooze on the floor
the Squire's old heart hums its mournful song
born of a sadness cherished too long.

 

Start of page 68 in the book

 

Up Squire Theobald, and out of that chair!
soon your name will die in the western shire;
you'll lie where your fathers long have lain
and your bride of a year will be yours again.
Out Theobald! for one last time
furbish the lustre of a faded line!

 

It's a little too late for an agéd ear:
shall the hand that shakes lift a martial spear
or the slippered foot ape a great man's tread?
It's a little too late, this call from the dead;
a little unreasonable, most would say,
to disturb the dreams of one fading away.

 

Doze on old Squire, you will soon make way
and in return for the pence they pay
curious groups of the new élite
will shuffle around your family seat
gawping and gaping, trundling past,
with little regard for what's dead at last.

 

Start of page 69 in the book

 

End of an Old Song

[To be spoken in a Cockney accent.]

 

Before I come up, they told me down the pub Oxford wuz cultivated:
upper class, they said, all baying for broken glass;
or else servitors, respectfully waiting on the aforesaid,
passing by on their way to the world through swanky college;
all psycho-babbling with elegant Oxford accents, giddy:
flashing their wit with them undistorted vowels.

 

Well I'm dismayed, I really am: I find it's not at all like that.
Yes, 'ere in Oxford we do have the 'ighly-carved old stone buildings:
We do have those, along with the city wall and Magdalen tower (called Mawdlen).
Yes we do have all this old silver and the river, telling us something:
like, once there was gentlemen and scholars in this place.
But don't you worry old son: they've all gone now.