Alice O. Howell   


A pleasant English summer a life ago




A pleasant English summer a life ago --

            a weaving of ovals green

above the riverflow

a dappling of those chips of blue

and gold below

all from a summerswifted evening glow

a bending of the fluted waving grasses

where the carapaced slow beetle walks

lurching its scarabed angles

through the stalks


wrens in the dusty hedgerows

wagtails, linnets, buntings

darting soundlessly about a

somnolence of sheep

marking the leys of our longing now

to sleep

            oh, what were we waiting for

            those summerhays ago

            lying aneath the beeches

            near the river's summerglow!


The old manse, the pilgrims' eaves

and bedding by the silvers of the starcut leaves

            still life, life still

our faces framed by hands and leaning each to each

hushes, whispers, hushes on our tongues

            as we let each other in

reaching for -- so simply, softly, softly

the sweetness of each other's skin


            what were our pleasures then

            drowsing the lovelit night

            waking to the scattered pealing

            of a morning's feathered light!


marigolds and hollyhocks and

dew-drenched bending roses

flax, weld and foxglove

and the river moving time along

reflecting and collecting

all that lovely, lovely summersong


            thinking now in winter

            of our older saddened eyes

            parted and yet joined

            by grey and sodden city skies

I pluck insistence so

from that which summering in dreams

while ever singing deeper, deems

to bear us forth where heaven seems

still flashing in the endless rippling riverflow:

            all love that time would let us know

              that pleasant English summer, only a life ago.