Stand here by the Sunday School, Beside the Scholars’ House, Where rubber plant and yellow hammer And pigeon speak in tongues. The river brings cold clay, Washed away, washed away, And careless ploughs rubbing tynes Like silent crickets in tasteless hay Mock the ornamental scythe Crucified in converted barns – Take a moment from your rush And lean to the moorstone parapet, Shade the mullet, the turning stone, The lost wheel and ladder-rung. The eastern transits bring rice and spice To supply our cosmopolitan plate, And stevedore-echoes pointed-in Between courses of quays damply hung In residues of ebb and morning mist Greet the verger’s jangling keys – You might lean an elbow, or release The shackles of intellect to roam In a universe of idleness unseen By tyrant or timeclock, unchecked; And you might, if you stand deathly still, Applaud the kiss of land and sea, The risen spring and curious tide Lip to lip under bridging feet, Where lunar stream and village pump Inadvertently yet purposefully collide, Where the heart, slipped from grip Of aunty and uncle street, of cousin Back from the land of Jack, of mother Leaded in lichen slab and framed memory’s mantle to fox, and father, Dear old man, but half the man He otherwise was when she was there To fight his cause – and you may, On the curlew signal, on still, still air, Catch the scent of open sea, The unspent credit of curiosity And production’s promise of trade, A place to sell what you may have made – And in your stolen reflection, your minute Of time-sold-cheap, of progress steep Against the climb to chapel and moor, To raise your feet from spoiled floor, There you’ll find, in plain sight, clear As day on the cusp of night, or night On the bugle’s rise to make the day, There’s the reason for your town: Power! Opportunity! Fresh and salt! Each song sung to get ahead, and yet Each melody reliant upon the choir To search the vault for harmony. The song of bridges competes to welcome The passages of water beneath themselves, Below your feet a discourse of arches, Of eddies and swirls and democracies Of heron and cormorant, of rook and gull; And there is no book so full, no stook Or rick in harvest field, no hedge or gate, No lane or thorn-over-shadow to bend Before the easterly gale, can compare In time or sense with a sudden old-bridge- Sniff of seaward air, a snatch of whale And Lander’s skiff by Niger’s mouth And all of mystery and venture to regale – Yes! Take a pause, take five, you are, After all, the only you that will be In this moment, these five, you alone And you alive, and you in yourself Sweetly, without mockery or jibe, free! Then, on your way to papers and milk, Or rocking home from Barley Sheaf Or evensong upon your creaking knee, Pause and take the air, let your palms Grip the falling glass’s wheel and ride The laughter of a gathered sea. It’s here, On the bridge of your dreaming ship, With sycamore and granite and chips for tea, Here you’ll find horizons, and here Be touched and tempted by the mistress, The siren and lunar sprite, she Who goes between the spaces Night after chiming midnight, her flight As dark by day, as bright as stars, As mysterious a pot as turns the clay, As silent as an oak’s nailed scars, As fierce as gannets over mackerel prey.