The Road to Boscobel (for R) A version of this poem was first published in English Heritage Volunteer Focus Magazine 'England's Inspiring History'
I no longer climb this winding path with Charles the Second;
conjure myself starved and sodden, hemmed in
by yew and black oak to the horizon; sniffed out
by dogs and Roundheads all the way from Worcester.
Now I walk with you and see true ─ fields where woods
used to be, fields waving lilac foamed with cow parsley,
fields powdered yellow of school-day paint,
fields of tan unfolding and poppy exploding.
Because of you I know where skylarks nest,
and that some days, muzzy-charcoal days,
I will hear them sing before I see them tremble
upwards and downwards and upwards again.
I know too that robins sing to terrify,
and dunnocks make the hedgerows chatter;
that black birds crowding branches are rooks,
but those alone, in twos, or threes, are crows.
You have loosed the blackbird’s sweet song
from the thrush’s tangled tune for me,
and shown me branches of hazel and blackthorn
to make fine sticks for the journey home…