Holmhurst

I remember the many times
I sauntered schoolgirl-style
Beneath the beeches tall,
Their leafy parasols
Shading my young head
From noon-day sun.
A filigree of nature's finery
In copper veridian,
The supple pines
That swayed and creaked
In the breeze,
And the sturdy yew hedge
With her aura of calm.

I remember the stagnant pond,
The deathbed likeness
Of her green-slime surface
Lying very still.
The rhododendrons a dark fringe
About her.

Through stone archway
The magnolia's waxy blooms
Outstretched on backcloth
Of cerulean blue: the bamboos
Whispering their tropical psalm,
Intriguing me.

I remember the sandy paths
Leading to the woods,
And the cool of walking there
After service had been said
When the heat beat down elsewhere:
Passing the fields of buttercups
Where cows grazed
And skylarks sung,
Passing the burial ground
Neat with crosses.

I remember how on a clear day
We would gaze at the distant town
And the thin grey line of sea
That seemed to beckon us
To explore beyond
Our fortressed world.

How in spring's fresh air
The crocuses erupted
On the sloping lawn,
Gold and purple hues
Glistened in the sun
On the dewy green grass,
Then summer's flowers
Sprayed the air
With the sweetest scents,
And when they passed,
Autumn came and went
With one long dying sigh,
Then winter's naked form
Shook and shivered
Under an oatmeal sky.

I remember the pebbled terrace,
The faded mosaic spelling
Better yesteryears,
And regal steps descending
Fan-wise to lower lawn,
Where the mulberry stooped
Her great old age,
And Queen Anne's statue stood,
A relic of the past
Not to be forgotten.

I remember the tall stone chimneys
Set high on the roofs,
The shuttered windows
And creepered walls:
How on a winter's night
The wind would moan and sigh
All through the house,
The cold crouching in corners
Soaking in the flagstone floors
To chill us all.

I remember the narrow passages
Fading into darkness,
The old oak panels
And dark, strong beams:
Trite, girlish laughter
Echoing in the catacomb
Of ante-rooms, harbouring
Our childish dreams.

Now at seventeen, nursing a
Wistful heart, I look back
To that house upheld by faith,
To its people cocooned
Within its walls,
For its sheltered life
I have had to leave
And enter another strange
And crude; but its beauty
I shan't forget,
Nor its constant mood,
And pray God it will forever
Remain unspoiled,
A sanctity of holy good.

(01/01/58
St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, England)

by Philippa Lane

Other poems of LANE (45)

Comments (2)

remarkably well-written for a girl of 17! (well-written for anyone!)
Philippa. This poem excels in so many ways. Creative word pictures, a tone that suggests a loving remembrance. You must have loved your school as much as if it had been your home. And in a way, a boarding school is one's home, for a time. The philosopher Hegel believed that a woodworker who loved his craft knew wood in a special way, perhaps bertter than did a scientist schooled in forestry. My im- pression is that you had that special knowledge of your school and its surroundings. Altogether excellent. Willa.