I hear the songs of the Saxon Downs
As they sing on the winds in haunting sounds;
They tell of the sea and deep tolling bells,
And whisper bewitchings in Runic spells.

They sough in the pines and dance in the air,
And chaunt of the girl with the flaxen hair
Who runs on the hills and wind-swept dunes
Barefoot and lovely and fair as the moon.

By ruins and streams
And rushy weirs,
In starlight and dreams
They are always there:
They live in the grass
And the hills of chalk,
And if you but listen
The very stones talk.

Do ghostly pilgrims still wend the vales
Rehearsing yet our Chaucer’s Tales?
Are yet there knights full courteous and kind
To slay all the dragons that still eat mankind?

From out the enchanted veils of mist,
The shapes appear – eternal, I wist.
The monks still kneel in the cloisters bare,
Bowing their heads in frozen prayer;
The sheep still graze on the ancient wolds
And daffodils sway in the wind, I’m told.

By sand-ribb’d wrecks
In surging seas,
Or lichen-flecks
On walls and trees,
They’re always there,
Unseen – yet heard,
Like the distant cry
Of a soaring bird.

There’s witchery strange in the songs of the Downs
As they quire on the winds in haunting rounds;
By brook and copse and primros’d lair,
In moonlight and dreams they’re always there:
Wot nedeth myn wordès mor?

© 2012 Thurstan Bassett