In rolling royalties he took an innocent delight

but what, in baring his soul, had he really wanted?

Nothing it seemed to him gave anyone the right

to anatomise the growth that he had merely planted.


Those corners that most excited them remained dark for him,

dark and consequential, like a late summer sky

as it banks away towards evening and the stormy rim

of darkness veiling and unveiling hillsides of rye.


He thought it would be enough to tilt his page

to catch the rain-washed strokes of light,

to leave it all incomplete, a cloudy rage,

and throw a tarpaulin over it as one would a boat.


But even then knots of people stood around

wanting a word, a signature, above all information.

Did he feel flattered? So long as they didn’t surround

him he could edge away, pleading engagement, the woes of creation.


He had meant what he said: he stood on the edge

of the known world of noisy, parasitic business,

and on those reckless enough to approach his ridge

had urged safety and caution as one might a straightening of dress.


How many repetitions does it take? The broken sky

leaned dangerously but still the multitude

came on steamily, as if they detected a lie,

and so far he had managed not to be rude.


Here was the earth, the covert, the blanket of red leaves

that discreet October had kindly provided,

a stump wrapped around with the silence of foggy trees,

where nothing further could be exposed or derided.


It wasn’t exactly peace and far from solitude.

There were many theories, but no one thought he was a saint.

With neighbours moving remotely he could avoid a feud

and brood in silence on his mysterious taint.