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The pool is off the Dorking-Guildford road,

at the foot of the North Downs; is fed

from a spring, which seeps through chalk and flint;

is so-called for allegedly no birds sing

in this glade of ash, oak and yew;

a place of legend, of Druidic worship,

rumoured deep enough to drown secrets.

A sharp March wind rattles twigs and branches.


By the side of a flint pathway – that leads

to the top of the Downs with its Pilgrims’ Way,

an old drovers’ road – is a second world war

‘pillbox’, its unadorned and concrete

symmetry stark, a forgotten reminder

of fears of invasion from Bonaparte

to Hitler – not without reason in this land,

like many, pillaged over and over.


Edward Thomas, after his breakdown,

cycled westward, a century ago,

from Clapham to the Quantocks in pursuit

of spring in turbulent weather like this.

That laureate of the moment – the hoot

of an owl, grass stilled in the heat – briefly stopped here

the year before he wrote his first poem,

two years before he enlisted, three

before a shell blast killed him at Arras.



© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • John Huddart
    January 8, 2014

    A Silent Pool that provokes such storytelling – I expect it similarly inspired the Druids as they ritually sacrificed a goat here, a shepherd there…And speaking of sacrifice, enter Edward Thomas, on his way to a sacrifice of another kind. The “laureate of the moment” is a fine and fitting label – and one which also can be attached to your own verse.

  • David Selzer
    January 8, 2014

    Thank you.

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