Garsington Church


From this seat against the tower
I sense the invisible Thames slide
Beyond the arboretum. The horizon
Is there and yet not there
As the sun breaks then falters
Under frost.

Garsington Church

The power station sends up clouds
Of its own (I have seen
In summer sunsets the towers erupt
A whole Himalaya of roses over
Wittenham Clumps.) But today
The Clumps are sepia against
A wash of hills and haze.

The space and variable lights
Of the winter landscape call
For exploration. A horse stands
In a green field and the ploughed earth
Is stretched for the plundering gulls.

Inside the church they meditate
The mysteries. Words,
Some of them (let's not exaggerate)
Come dancing crazily out of history.
The worshipers speak the words
Knowing (I guess) that words are cryptic
And that the figurations dazzle and disturb
The eye that reads them.

Wittenham Clumps

But not so crazily they don't listen
And come back. The widows
And the bereaved old men
Taking flowers to certain graves
On anniversaries, they come back
With a remote, landscape-searching
Look in the eye.

The church has made a landscape
Of belief wider than the eye can see
Or any of us dream. The saints
Have pioneered a wild terrain to make
The creeds. The ancient folly still goes on.
The prayers are uttered, hymns are sung
That sometime, someone from this very seat
Might see the fires of Pentecost
Break out of Wittenham Clumps.

28 November, 1987