Poem in October
It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed
Myself to set foot
In the still sleeping town and set forth.
My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.
A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.
Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
Away but the weather turned around.
It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels
And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart
moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the
And the mystery
Still in the water and singingbirds.
And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.
A Thirtieth birthday is important, it marks the transition from unthinking and joyful youth to the beginnings of wisdom and worldly concerns. It is unlikely that the heart’s truth will be celebrated in a years time, rather that the vagaries of our childhood upbringing will come to have an increasing effect on the possibilities open to us. WE thought we owned the world but the world owns us snd decides our fate without our permisssion. Indeed on that birthday, for us as for the poet, the ‘weather turned around’ and life began to unravel the dark side of our personaility which hitherto had gone unrecognised except in the occasional but inexplicable outburst of fury at what life has served up to us.