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Collected Poems

Landscape with Figures

Landscape with Figures

(Memories of England, 1930)

No dragon's blood breaking in crimson flowers,
no timeless jungle, obscenity of apes,
no serpents lust-entangled in hot bowers
where in the moonlight flit the tiger-shapes;

no crunch of living bones, no clouds that rise
malarial from the whining swamp where falls
death in a raindrop from the envenomed skies,
no jackal's wail beneath the desert walls—

but only meadowlarks, armorial shields,
and woods of wishing-green with buds bedight,
and vicars tripping home through daisied fields,
and mezzotints, and dairymaid's delight.

Behold the springtime and the freshening east!
Now fabulous in leaves the adder dwells
to bite the hand, sole spice to all this feast
of harmless primrose, heaven-coloured bells.

Blue blood's behind sad walls where birds are bred
and no more kings. By dim baronial scenes
along arterial roads runs common red,
and pulses down green lanes in limousines.

Fur-coated abstinence and gilt-edged stock
strew petrol mists where flit the hiker-shapes,
and charabancs go lumbering choc-a-bloc
with rougy jades and sleek unjungled apes.

page 88

No panther-lust, nor hunger for hot flesh
mars England's rectories! Here matrons coy
and dutiful divines their souls refresh
with love-in-jaegers, simple beefsteak joy.

From this cold earth Crusaders leapt in fire
to barbarous lands, and roving knights in ships
in death's despite set forth to swage desire,
with Christ a lovely flame upon their lips.

In mortgaged precincts epicene Sir Giles,
cold remnant of a fiery race, consorts
with pale fox-hunting Jews with glossy smiles,
and plays at Walton Heath, and drives a sports.