Periphrastic

Out riding with friends today, on a crisp Autumn morning, the air full of chill. A good 6o miles, or there abouts. Stood at the war memorial in Mayfield, cap in hand, a minutes silence – I am reminded of the poem crafted by 2nd Lt John Stanley Purvis, holed up in the misery of the trenches half an hour before ‘going over the top’, in 1915.

I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring
In summer time, and on the Down how larks and linnets sing
High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and Oh the air!
I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair.
But now I know it in this filthy rat infested ditch
When every shell may spare or kill – and God alone knows which.
And I am made a beast of prey, and this trench is my lair.
My God! I never knew till now that those days were so fair.
So we assault in half an hour, and, – it’s a silly thing –
I can’t forget the narrow lane to Chanctonbury Ring.

Sling up to the Forest from Mayfield, around Crowborough, up and over from Friars Gate and a short stop at the Duddleswell Tea Rooms. A struggle to warm up after that and with burning thighs through Nutley, Newick and Barcombe, I realise that I am 6 weeks, 3 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes off any kind of self respect. Tired.

At least I get to sleep in my own bed tonight.

Further Works

Radiohead – Harry Patch (In Memory of)