(New Criterion Jan 2006, collected in Without Title.)
In Ipsley Church Lane 1
More than ever I see through painters’ eyes.
The white hedge-parsleys pall, the soot is on them.
Clogged thorn-blossom sticks, like burnt cauliflower,
to the festered hedge-rim. More than I care to think
I am as one coarsened by feckless grief.
Storm cloud and sun together bring out the yellow of stone.
But that’s lyricism, as Father Guardini
equably names it: autosuggestion, mania,
working off a chagrin close to despair,
ridden by jealousy of all self-healed
in sexual love, each selving each, the gift
of that necessity their elect choice.
Later, as in late autumn, there will be
the mass-produced wax berries, and perhaps
an unearthed wasps’ nest like a paper skull,
where fragile cauls of cobweb start to shine.
Where the quick spider mummifies its dead
rage shall move somnolent yet unappeased.