‘Me all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broad amongst her learned throng.
Fierce warres and faithful loves shall moralize my song.’
A lifetime upriver, out here on this spindly bridge
Across the sky-blue Cherwell
I watch the flat earth mirror heaven
In the February flood. Can it be that now
On the brink of old age I may begin?
The dreaming mind will lose no chance
To mobilise belief, so why not here
Among the sunken willows
And the houseboats moored to nowhere –
‘Our lives in infinite preparation’?
Did you ever
Take a notion, Ryan asks, to jump in the river and drown?
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