Chanctonbury Mayday

Against the gleaming whiteness of the May
Each drowsing sheep with suckled lamb
Seemed washed in powder of some other brand,
As we climbed up at break of day
To Chanctonbury Ring.

Pale cowslips decked the chalky way;
A solitary deer sprang startled from its place;
Pheasant and skylark hymned the cold sun’s face;
Quiet cows continued breakfast as they lay
By Chanctonbury Ring..

A chill wind blew as men in white
Marched up with cudgels in their hands,
Then in two lines with beating band
They sparred about in rhythmic fight
At Chanctonbury Ring.

Bells jingled, sticks went rat-a-tat
As sixteen legs sprang up as one;
The Squire heralded the sun
With ancient song and doffed his hat
On Chanctonbury Ring.

They made the clouded morn look bright
Leaping about with hankies white,
Dancing with zeal and and loud delight
Despite their Squire’s bladder-swipes
They made a really glorious sight
And Chanctonbury sing.

The dancing men by the gale-rent trees
Lured some nearby curious cows,
Who stared entranced with puzzled brows
Then mooed “It’s that mad man disease”
At Chanctonbury Ring.

May Day 2001


As we sat down to supper,
In our glass-walled room,
She lit a candle
Against October’s gloom.

The tiny flame gave little light
But in each wall of doubled glass
Sprang twin reflections burning bright.

The opened sliding door
Increased the score
To four and more – and more..
Whichever way one gazed
The tiny flicker multiplied,
Just as a single smile
Makes miles of smiles.

People in glass houses
Though forbidden stones,
Should light a candle
– and smile.

October 2001 on National Poetry Day