Anne Barbara Ridler (30 July 1912 – 15 October 2001 / Rugby, England)
Beyond the Chiltern coast, this church:
A lighthouse in dry seas of standing corn.
Bees hive in the tower; the outer stone
Pared and frittered in sunlight, flakes with the years:
Clunch crumbles, but silence, exaltation, endures.
The brass-robed Rector stretched on his tomb endures.
Within, we go upon the dragon and the bat,
Walk above the world, without,
Uplifted among grey lavender, beech and sycamore,
Shades of the sea-born chalk, indelible and austere.
If we see history from this hill
It is upon its own conditions, here
Each season swirls and eddies the circle of a year
Round the spectator church, and human eyes
Take, on its plinth, a long focus of centuries.
We seem like gods on any hill.
From here all toil resembles rest, and yet
Unlike a god we feel ourselves shut out.
Surely that farm in a carved blue curve of trees
So still with all its creatures, holds the unattainable peace?
It is Time's camouflage deceives us.
There it extends like space: whatever moves
(A horse to drink, a reaper to stack the sheaves)
Displays the movement in its whole succession,
Not a change of terms, only a changed relation.
Deceit or truth? The dead possess the hill
In battlements of Totternhoe or slate;
The view is ours, the range and ache of sight.
If Time serves: in a common space unrolls
This Resurrection field, with sheaves in glory like risen souls.
Comments about this poem (Edlesborough by Anne Barbara Ridler )
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