by Ivor Gurney

Ivor Gurney

Severn has kilns set all along her banks
Where the thin reeds grow and rushes in ranks;
And the carts tip rubbish there from the town;
It thunders and raises white smoke and goes down.
I think some of those kilns are very old,
An age is on those small meres, and could unfold
Tales of many tenders of kilns and tales,
Of the diggers and earth delvers of those square weals
Or oblong of Severn bank. And all the flowers
June ever imagined stand and fulfil June's hours.
I think of the countless slabs gone out from all of them;
Farm house, cottage, loved of generations of men,
Fronting day as equal, or in dusk shining dim;
Of the Dane-folk curious of the sticky worthy stuff;
Kneading, and crumbling till the whim wearied enough.
Of the queer bricks unlearned hands must have made;
Spoiling clay, wasting wood, working out the war's trade;
With one hand the clear eyes fending, keeping in shade
Fierce Fire that grazes and melts with its regardings rough.
Or the plays children had of Dane-Saxon breed,
Chasing round the square kilns with devil-may-care
Headlong roughness of heedless body-reckless speed;
Grazing knees and knuckles to disaster there.
Of the creeping close to parents when November azure
Melancholy made company, and stillness, new pleasure,
And the wonder of fire kept the small boys to stay sure.
And the helping of fathers build well of the new brick,
The delight in handling over thin and thick - the youthful critic.
Of the Normans, how they liked kilns, that thrust to endure
Endless abbeys and strong chapels up in the air,
And Domesday questioners who worried the too evasive
Owner as to tales and days work to a story unplausive,
As to the fuels used, and the men there and the hours, the wage hours.

Last updated July 01, 2015