The Flood

[Image: JMW Turner's "Waves breaking on a Lee shore"]

Waves trough, rebound, and furious boil again,
Like plunging monsters rising underneath,
Who at the top curl up a shaggy mane,
A moment catching at a surer breath,
Then plunging headlong down and down, and on
Each following whirls the shadow of the last;
And other monsters rise when those are gone,
Crest their fringed waves, plunge onward and are past.
The chill air comes around me oceanly,
From bank to bank the waterstrife is spread;
Strange birds like snowspots oer the whizzing sea
Hang where the wild duck hurried past and fled.
On roars the flood, all restless to be free,
Like Trouble wandering to Eternity.

Autumn (II)

Now filtering winds thin winnow through the woods
With tremulous noise, that bids, at every breath,
Some sickly cankered leaf
Let go its hold and die.

And now the bickering storm, with sudden start,
In flirting fits of anger carps aloud,
Thee urging to thine end,
Sore wept by troubled skies.

And yet, sublime in grief, thy thoughts delight
To show me visions of most gorgeous dyes,
Haply forgetting now
They but prepare thy shroud;

Thy pencil dashing its excess of shades,
Improvident of wealth, till every bough
Burns with thy mellow touch
Disorderly divine.

Soon must I view thee as a pleasant dream
Droop faintly, and so reckon for thine end,
As sad the winds sink low
In dirges for their queen;

While in the moment of their weary pause,
To cheer thy bankrupt pomp, the willing lark
Starts from his shielding clod,
Snatching sweet scraps of song.

Thy life is waning now, and Silence tries
To mourn, but meets no sympathy in sounds,
As stooping low she bends,
Forming with leaves thy grave;

To sleep inglorious there mid tangled woods,
Till parch-lipped Summer pines in drought away;
Then from thine ivied trance
Awake to glories new.

Autumn (I)

[Image: Patchwork Vista ~ Carry Akroyd]

Syren of sullen moods and fading hues,
Yet haply not incapable of joy,
Sweet Autumn! I thee hail
With welcome all unfeigned;

And oft as morning from her lattice peeps
To beckon up the sun, I seek with thee
To drink the dewy breath
Of fields left fragrant then,

In solitudes, where no frequented paths
But what thine own foot makes betray thine home,
Stealing obtrusive there
To meditate thy end;

By overshadowed ponds, in woody nooks,
With ramping sallows lined, and crowding sedge,
Which woo the winds to play,
And with them dance for joy;

And meadow pools, torn wide by lawless floods,
Where waterlilies spread their oily leaves,
On which, as wont, the fly
Oft battens in the sun;

Where leans the mossy willow half way o'er,
On which the shepherd crawls astride to throw
His angle, clear of weeds
That crown the water's brim;

Or crispy hills and hollows scant of sward,
Where step by step the patient, lonely boy,
Hath cut rude flights of stairs
To climb their steepy sides;


Grasshoppers go in many a thumming spring
And now to stalks of tasseled sow-grass cling,
That shakes and swees awhile, but still keeps straight;
While arching oxeye doubles with his weight.
Next on the cat-tail-grass with farther bound
He springs, that bends until they touch the ground.
[Image: Swaddywell Field - Carry Akroyd (detail)]

Love's Emblem

Go rose, my Chloe's bosom grace:
How happy should I prove,
Could I supply that envied place
With never-fading love.

Accept, dear maid, now Summer glows,
This pure, unsullied gem,
Love's emblem in a full-blown rose,
Just broken from the stem.

Accept it as a favourite flower
For thy soft breast to wear;
'Twill blossom there its transient hour,
A favourite of the fair.

Upon thy cheek its blossom glows,
As from a mirror clear,
Making thyself a living rose,
In blossom all the year.

It is a sweet and favourite flower
To grace a maiden's brow,
Emblem of love without its power--
A sweeter rose art thou.

The rose, like hues of insect wing,
May perish in an hour;
'T is but at best a fading thing,
But thou'rt a living flower.

The roses steeped in morning dews
Would every eye enthrall,
But woman, she alone subdues;
Her beauty conquers all.

Little Trotty Wagtail

Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain,
And twittering, tottering sideways he ne'er got straight again.
He stooped to get a worm, and looked up to get a fly,
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.

Little trotty wagtail he waddled in the mud,
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.
He waddled in the water-pudge, and waggle went his tail,
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.

Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about,
And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out;
Your home is nigh at hand, and in the warm pig-stye,
So, little Master Wagtail, I'll bid you a good bye.

from 'The Stranger'

His presence was a peace to all,
He bade the sorrowful rejoice.
Pain turned to pleasure at his call,
Health lived and issued from his voice.
He healed the sick and sent abroad
The dumb rejoicing in the Lord.

The blind met daylight in his eye,
The joys of everlasting day;
The sick found health in his reply;
The cripple threw his crutch away.
Yet he with troubles did remain
And suffered poverty and pain.

Yet none could say of wrong he did,
And scorn was ever standing bye;
Accusers by their conscience chid,
When proof was sought, made no reply.
Yet without sin he suffered more
Than ever sinners did before.

September 1824

Took a walk in the fields: saw an old wood stile taken away from a familiar spot which it had occupied all my life. The posts were overgrown with ivy, and it seemed akin to nature and the spot where it stood, as though it had taken it on lease for an undisturbed existence. It hurt me to see it was gone, for my affections claim a friendship with such things; but nothing is lasting in this world.

Last year Langley Bush was destroyed -- an old white-thorn that had stood for more than a century, full of fame. The gipsies, shepherds, and herdsmen all had their tales of its history, and it will be long ere its memory is forgotten.

An excerpt from ‘Remembrances’

Summer's pleasures they are gone like to visions every one,
And the cloudy days of autumn and of winter cometh on.
I tried to call them back, but unbidden they are gone
Far away from heart and eye and forever far away.
Dear heart, and can it be that such raptures meet decay?
I thought them all eternal when by Langley Bush I lay,
I thought them joys eternal when I used to shout and play
On its bank at “clink and bandy,” “chock” and “taw” and “ducking stone,”
Where silence sitteth now on the wild heath as her own
Like a ruin of the past all alone.

The Shepherd's Calendar - September

[Carry Akroyd’s linocut illustrating September from “The Shepherd’s Calendar 2007” published by Carcanet Publications]

Anon the fields are wearing clear
And glad sounds hum in labours ear
When childern halo ‘here they come’
And run to meet the harvest home
Stuck thick with boughs and thronged with boys
Who mingle loud a merry noise
Glad that the harvests end is nigh
And weary labour nearly bye
Where when they meet the stack thronged yard
Cross bunns or pence their shouts reward

Then comes the harvest supper night
Which rustics welcome with delight
When merry game and tiresome tale
And songs increasing with the ale
Their mingled uproar interpose
To crown the harvests happy close
While rural mirth that there abides
Laughs till she almost cracks her sides