Six Wiltshire Songs (In Toto)

One of my correspondents thought it would be good to see all six of the Six Wiltshire Songs laid out as they should be, so she could see the rhyme scheme and try to understand why some lines were italicised. Happy to oblige, dear reader!

Six Wiltshire Songs


Old photos spill across the floor, accrued
Images of hills and sunlight and soil
And larks and birdsong and hedgerows.
                                              And you.

1 – Plough Song

A tractor and its shining, stainless train
Labours across the dark unbroken earth.
Its sharp blades lowered wound the marly soil.
We watch bright gulls alight and dip to claim
Fat brown worms that thrash in freshly-turned turf.
Then we turned our eyes to another hill.

2 – Spring Song

On Scratchbury Hill we watched a new day dawn.
The sun that boils the mists to roiling strings,
And warms the sap that flows through bud and soil,
Then brushes green and gold across the downs
Accompanied by the skylark’s fluting
Hymn to spring, hollered on an upward coil.

3 – Summer Song

Languid orange, yellow, lies on the land.
A white mist drifts, forming from the white chalk.
Dust and haze gauze the fields on which I gaze.
Here, your finger once traced lines in my hand.
Long evening shadows fall across the fields
In which the spectral shapes of roe deer graze.

4 – Winter Song

We woke to clouds, remember? High and bright,
Like a hazy gauze, a white net that foils
The low winter sun, and holds its rays fast.
Verges glisten, peppered with frosted white
Dew, each mottled blade a cold green nail.
Our faces were cold. Our kisses were not.

5 – Even Song

Evening sun on a starling’s breast discloses
A rainbow of speckled starlight, like oil
Floating and coating dark starlit water.
We watched a yellow beak open. Song rises
Into the twilight, notes defying all
The slow darkness at the eastern quarter.

6 – City Song

Surely our love had once been built to last?
So why from my love do you now recoil?
I ask. You laugh and cite my mood swings,
“They are contrary,” you say. “Oh, contrast
“Our love then, that once grew rich in Wiltshire soil
“As we loved beneath contrails and larks’ wings.”