The Old Vicarage, Grantchester
Brooke, Rupert (1887-1915)
Just now the lilac is in bloom, All before my little room; And in my flower-beds, I think, Smile the carnation and the pink; And down the borders, well I know, The poppy and pansy blow ... Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through, Beside the river make for you A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep Deeply above; and green and deep The stream mysterious glides beneath, Green as a dream and deep as death. --Oh, damn! I know it! and I know How the May fields all golden show, And when the day is young and sweet, Gild gloriously the bare feet That run to bathe ... Du lieber Gott! Here am I, sweating, sick, and hot, And there the shadowed waters fresh Lean up to embrace the naked flesh. Temperamentvoll German Jews Drink beer around; -- and there the dews Are soft beneath a morn of gold. Here tulips bloom as they are told; Unkempt about those hedges blows An English unofficial rose; And there the unregulated sun Slopes down to rest when day is done, And wakes a vague unpunctual star, A slippered Hesper; and there are Meads towards Haslingfield and Coton Where das Betreten's not verboten. [eiqe genoimhn, symbol font] ... would I were In Grantchester, in Grantchester! -- Some, it may be, can get in touch With Nature there, or Earth, or such. And clever modern men have seen A Faun a-peeping through the green, And felt the Classics were not dead, To glimpse a Naiad's reedy head, Or hear the Goat-foot piping low:... But these are things I do not know. I only know that you may lie Day-long and watch the Cambridge sky, And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass, Hear the cool lapse of hours pass, Until the centuries blend and blur In Grantchester, in Grantchester. ... Still in the dawnlit waters cool His ghostly Lordship swims his pool, And tries the strokes, essays the tricks, Long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx. Dan Chaucer hears his river still Chatter beneath a phantom mill. Tennyson notes, with studious eye, How Cambridge waters hurry by ... And in that garden, black and white, Creep whispers through the grass all night; And spectral dance, before the dawn, A hundred Vicars down the lawn; Curates, long dust, will come and go On lissom, clerical, printless toe; And oft between the boughs is seen The sly shade of a Rural Dean ... Till, at a shiver in the skies, Vanishing with Satanic cries, The prim ecclesiastic rout Leaves but a startled sleeper-out, Grey heavens, the first bird's drowsy calls The falling house that never falls. God! I will pack, and take a train, And get me to England once again! For England's the one land, I know, Where men with Splendid Hearts may go; And Cambridgeshire, of all England, The shire for Men who Understand; And of that district I prefer The lovely hamlet Grantchester. For Cambridge people rarely smile, Being urban, squat, and packed with guile; And Royston men in the far South Are black and fierce and strange of mouth; At Over they fling oaths at one, And worse than oaths at Trumpington, And Ditton girls are mean and dirty, And there's none in Harston under thirty, And folks in Shelford and those parts Have twisted lips and twisted hearts, And Barton men make Cockney rhymes, And Coton's full of nameless crimes, And things are done you'd not believe At Madingley, on Christmas Eve. Strong men have run for miles and miles, When one from Cherry Hinton smiles; Strong men have blanched, and shot their wives, Rather than send them to St. Ives; Strong men have cried like babes, bydam, To hear what happened at Babraham. But Grantchester! ah, Grantchester! There's peace and holy quiet there, Great clouds along pacific skies, And men and women with straight eyes, Lithe children lovelier than a dream, A bosky wood, a slumbrous stream, And little kindly winds that creep Round twilight corners,half asleep. In Grantchester their skins are white; They bathe by day, they bathe by night; The women there do all they ought; The men observe the Rules of Tought. They love the Good; they worship Truth; They laugh uproariously in youth; (And when they get to feeling old They up and shoot themselves, I'm told) ... Ah God! to see the branches stir Across the moon at Grantchester! To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten Unforgettable, unforgotten River-smell, and hear the breeze Sobbing in the little trees. Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand Still guardians of that holy land? The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream, The yet unacademic stream? Is dawn a secret shy and cold Anadyomene, silver-gold? And sunset still a golden sea From Haslingfield to Madingley? And after, ere the night is born, Do hares come out about the corn? Oh, is the water sweet and cool, Gentle and brown, above the pool? And laughs the immmortal river still Under the mill, under the mill? Say, is there Beauty yet to find? And Certainty? and Quiet kind? Deep meadows yet, for to forget The lies, and truths, and pain? ... Oh! yet Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?
Rupert Brooke: a reappraisal and selection (Timothy Rogers)