Martin Robertson

Now and Then

Bury My Heart

Bury my heart…  But the heart’s not one.

Hearts bud off from it, plant themselves

in loved places.  


Two such buds swelled,

Dropped from my child-heart, grow

there where they were buried long ago:

one from the garden at Jesmond Hill

(not, as it sounds, in Newcastle

but above Pangbourne on the middle Thames)

dreams across the valley to Sulham woods;

the second at Saunton—wind-washed pink thrift

in short grass on low sandstone cliffs,

long low black rocks enclosing

clear pools and foaming

firths of tide, fencing

the cowrie beach—

looks out to Lundy or along the long sands which reach

with their spread of softer-sanded, spear-grassed dunes

miles away to the rivers of Barnstaple.

Later one lodged at Perachora, from the sanctuary

below the lighthouse on the rocky promontory

looks over blue gulf-water to the blue

mountains of Achaea, and through

the eye of the Corinth canal.  Another grows

in the far corner of Weymouth Bay, at Ringstead,

looks out to Portland or up to Whitenothe’s

high chalk head.

A fifth in Ithaca, from the end

of the long landlocked harbour with its island,

enjoys the shining broom-slopes.  Another at Iken looks

from a low cliff, like Saunton’s but topped with oaks,

out over grey shining water, grey

shining mud of an East-coast estuary.

The last, dropped more lately, took deep root

at Sheepstead, quiet country of water and wood

between the wandering Thames and the White Horse.

A bigger heart that, I think, than any

of the rest.  Bury my heart at Sheepstead, then.