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Collected Poems

Deserted Farmyard

Deserted Farmyard

The barn is bare of hoof and horn,
the yard is empty of its herds;
the thatch is grey with age and torn,
and spattered with the dung of birds.

The well is full of newts, the chain
long broken, and the spindle cracked,
and deep in nettles stands the wain
three-wheeled, with rotten hay half-stacked.

Where are the farmer and his bride
who came from their honeymoon in spring
filled full with gaudy hope and pride,
and made the farm a good paying thing?

Where are the scions of their race,
Thomas, the first, who followed whores,
William who followed Christ, and Grace,
who lived a virgin, scrubbing floors?

Asprawl the path where footsteps trod
and grinding wheels fetched in the crop
a snake lies prone, as basks a god
in triumph on a mountain top.

page 89

And there are worms beneath these stones,
and toads in dank and clammy lair,
and many a stinging insect drones
upon the stagnant summer air.

And life springs fresh amid the weeds
beside an upturned cider-vat,
where in hot sun the flesh-fly breeds
upon the carcase of a rat.