Yes, I remember Chester Road;
Because the named seemed so incongruous
For a long dusty pathway from nowhere to nowhere.
page 22 In the heat of the never-ending afternoon
The horse's feet seem to thud in one place,
Hollow, like pestles in a dust-eddying mortar.
Through the fence, sheep doze in the shade
Of gorse bushes on the rabbit-riddled paddocks.
There are mushrooms beside the stone walls
(Built, Jack says, by prisoners-of-war),
And apple trees grow in the ditches, and all
Along the grass verge by the roadside
Are pockets of wiry brambles, loaded
With blackberries that must be eaten now.
So we must stop, and pick, and eat, making slow
Progress along the still, grey road.
Suddenly, goaded by a drowsy sun
And lazy, cynical magpies, we gallop.
The yellowed grass by the empty ditch is an
Enviable race-track. And look! yet another
Apple-tree, with mottled fruit that grow
Longing to be picked. We stop (to pick one,
Of course. Food is not unimportant, you know.)
The smells of horse-sweat and leather mingle
With the sweet wild apples. And think now
Of what Jack said, yesterday evening;
How from the apple cores thrown down
By children riding to school, twenty,
Fifty, eighty years ago, have grown
All these trees. Only a fool
Would ride these days. So throw away
Your apple core, and hope.
And here comes hope in his chariot!
(It is the local parson in his Daimler.)
As the streamlined monster whistles past,
Like Ratty, infuriated by the wreck of his
Canary-coloured cart, yell at its impervious
Sleek back, scornful epithets (though this
Is futile); no matter, the stupid fellow
Was going too fast to find this colony
Of mushrooms. A summer traveller here
Could never go hungry among such plenty.
And I think (though I've never seen them before)
These are wild damsons by the water-race.
page 23 The heat is lessening, we can canter on
Towards the hills, where Holdsworth now
Is clearer; but the road will remain constant,
A reminder of something by this time evident:
Blackberries and mushrooms and wild apples are
(Though perhaps a non-churchgoer ought never
To put it like this:) my idea of Heaven.