Up here is where Broadview wants to harvest wind
(of which the Urals ensure a surfeit) unconcerned
that it’s also the base from which America chose to send
Flying Fortresses on bombing raids, that here marks
the place where some came back to stay. These concrete tracks
we use for jogging, walking the dog, riding our bikes,
were what they limped towards, their last approach
in line with the weather-cock on the spire of St Andrew’s Church,
whose bell today announces time. A sign in the porch
warns of incoming turbines. Think of history.
Think of natural beauty. No one mentions the mystery
of those helmeted aircrew on the tracks. It’s just a story.
Taken by Force
(after Goethe: ‘Mächtiges Überraschen’)
Out from a cloud-surrounded rocky hall
this gushing stream is in a rush to meet
Poseidon, not the least concerned what might
reflect in its descent, unstoppable.
But all at once that deity whose call
the whirling mountain winds obey, in spite
sends down her avalanche: its rocks create
a dam and so constrain the waterfall.
The torrent now retreats, frustrated foam
gives in, attacks again, then quaffs back up
towards the peak, cut off from its father’s sea.
And stops, become a lake at last, a home
for stars to gaze down into – waves as they lap
the cliffs – and see another way to be.
A Cautionary Tale
Good Friday, and I’ve been searching
for a windmill – for Jack and Jill,
for Cley, or maybe the one that salutes
as you crawl towards the M11
past military graves, but never
moves – like those nudes in the war
my father used to reminisce about.
As long as they were motionless,
it was Art. Nor is it the Nine
Maidens I am looking for
at Grafham Water, powering through
this early Easter stillness to an air
from Die Schöne Müllerin. They keep
swimming along the horizon, a white
arm raised, trying to warn
there is a cliff. I want a windmill
to charge at. Giants wait across
the Channel, creaking their ancient cry
of revolution, ready to dispel
Belloc’s vision, and be clear.
John Greening is a Bridport and Cholmondeley winner with over twenty collections, including The Silence (Carcanet, 2019) he has edited Grigson, Blunden, Crichton Smith & anthologies on music, sheds and country houses (with Kevin Gardner: Hollow Palaces, Liverpool, 2021). His essays, Vapour Trails, appeared in 2020 and there’s an American Selected next year.