On this late summer Sunday afternoon
a line of smoke drifts from woodlands below
that seem to stretch almost unbroken
to the South Downs distant, cerulean.
Out of sight is England’s long southern coast.
Dressed limestone forms the house’s facade.
It is imbedded with severed fossils.
Through an open window there is music,
a piano. On the lawn are cream teas
and wasps. A buzzard is circling far off.
Josiah Wedgwood retired here, Darwin
visited and Ralph Vaughan Williams composed.
They were related, a Victorian
pantheon – industry, science, art.
We cross mowed pastureland to the car park.
A cow frolics away amongst the ferns.
I think of bottle kilns dark in smoke,
and the wet shine of clay revolving,
evolving on a humming, ceaseless wheel,
and, some bright morning, the rising of a lark.
'LARK ASCENDING'Charles DarwinFossilsJosiah WedgwoodLEITH HILL PLACENational TrustRalph Vaughan WilliamsSouth DownsSurrey Hills