At the shaw's edge, side by side,
Oak, ash and thorn
Laid out like corpses on a battlefield;
Once shadow-dashed by dogfights
As men fell in their turn.
Their antecedents saw
The seasons and the Civil War
The herdsmen and the harvests,
A Saxon's hand on seed;
Betrothal bells and baptisms;
Pilgrims, pigeons' wings.
Moon on moon the hedgerow waxed and ebbed.
Watched the grandsons and the grandsires,
Man and ploughpair;
The wise yews bowing on the hill.
* * *
Heard the yews fall.
Fell themselves before the storm.
20 October 1987