The downs are certainly lovely, although by mortal loveliness
did you mean they would disappear one day? They are the eternal
feminine, to be walked over, and in and under, they are heaven,
they are rifle ranges, and rusting tanks, they are long summer bostals
burning magnesium-white, ecstatic lovers under hawthorn, they are raves
and summer parties, dewponds painstakingly lined with clay, they are dykes,
fortifications and manoeuvres, they are GI brides and land girls, they are poor land
for grazing, rampions, man orchids, they are marked by monks with crosses,
marked with horses and men, the turf is covered in oily black sheep droppings,
battle lines, beacons, they are military objects, cremated Sikh soldiers, barbed-wire-
land, they are inhabited by lone men, they are shortcuts and gas pipes and cyclists
balanced on the pedals, they are sheepsheared, rabbitrun, buzzarded, bearded with
old men, topped by trig points and aerials and car parks, up and down they go,
stiled and gated, hare-lipped, still timeless in summer when the gorse darkens
before the sky as if the sun slept in it and smelt of coconut. They are the slow
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