ENGLAND, 1995...................
Fluorescent yellow fields of rape aflame with outrageous beauty poison the English countryside;
A pall of thick brown molasses hangs over London;
more subtly over other places;
Motorways free their drivers' sharp competitive
urges to be first in the pack - even mine!
No one seems to see the delicate beauty of Britain's
newest immigrants: the soft, brown eyes searching for recognition;
"The center cannot hold," said Yeats. It seems true.
And yet ... and yet ...
In Harrington Gardens, near the Gloucester Road tube stop,
Bosnian John's funky St. Simeon Hotel
cordially welcomes me home to a tall, skinny four-bed room I can still afford;
John's watery tea warms my early morning stomach.
English hospitality in countless places still extends the
warm open arms that keep alive my grateful promise to return;
The Tingle Stone, ancient Gloucestershire rebirther,
still responds to my joyous touch as I lean, blissful, against its gnarled, sunlit side;
The magic of the Tor still lives on in its dark and water-loud hillside caves, inhabited now by shaggy young soothsayers,
And on its top, supports a timeless ten-foot beacon
lit now by one of the country folk, at sunset's ending,
Flaming out over the dark valley below,
to the sound of our clapping, on the night of VE Day --
Oxford and Cambridge Universities still work their special early morning magic amid their dreaming spires;
Perhaps, after all, it might be true that
there'll always be an England.
I do hope so.
It may even be that the Countenance Divine
Never did shine forth upon those clouded hills,
Despite Blake's fervent hopes and poetic eloquence;
But something of that shining holiness still lives on
among her daily folk.
May, 1995.
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