The Ruin

Where tumbling slopes stream down their hushed-field-rapids,
in one of the innumerable hollows
that dot North England, is a living structure.
(The still stones rise, as if with thrust of swallows.)

Between the village and Lake Semerwater
a church at rest (a stone-bird) takes the air:
from light to light, and time to time it travels,
made light by journeys of those buried there.

The roof is now the sky, and in the windows
are glorious natural tones of lake and hill.
The arches take the soul to a lost altar.
The entrance has a population still

of Busk and Countersett and Marsett; nothing
except some tombstones, keeled as in a storm,
now speaks their names . . . but yet a kind of meeting
is held, in broken architectural form,

of hope and love and all the things that fly.
The stones have wings that, in their steady sharing
of burden to be borne against the sky,
uphold the record of a district’s caring.

Such grace is here, in this primaeval valley
of Ice-Age-polished rock, with trace of sand
from prehistoric ocean, and a sailing
structure of stone . . . it seems as if, unplanned,

the Earth has its still moment here. The water
shines of Semer just beyond the church.
If I a last adventure too were seeking,
among the graveyard weeds I’d start my search.

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