Brinkwells, August 1918
Elgar begins his concerto for cello
When the first leaf, without a breeze
or any sign of winter, wends a slow
spiralling fall to earth, and then another
drifts in long melancholy circles down
till soon a vast bewildered host
comes falling, falling from grace, how
can the listener not lament these
fallen, nor pity losses of his own?
Recalling time left fallow and unattended;
a scrape of earth held
in the palm; the truth
that all our names are writ in water?
Out of the well that once seemed dry springs
memory – a fathomless regret
too cold for remedy.
And though there’s nothing to be said –
no cure, no balm – no benediction –
mortal flesh only has so much strength
for grieving: must breathe, must raise its head.
And though we fail, here
are these strings, this bow.
And we have felt all this.
And we will go on feeling.