Return of the Country Flaneur



(After V. S. Naipaul)


This is the beginning of things

the idea of emptiness

life forces pushing past the void

incarnate in kaleidoscopes

of creatures precursors

to the cargo of Noah

emissaries of the eternal Yes

combatants with the infernal No

moving gracefully beyond them

wrapped in mist

I cross the infinite dales

gathering glyphs of a summer dawn

like fossils encrusted in tawny fells

like sheep grazing yellow-green pastures

curving lazily past Yorkshire villages


What gifts do I bring to this beginning

how many leagues have I traversed for such a view

enduring my own folly and strangeness

the quarrelsome gait of a country flaneur

a shaded lane leads off a road I do not know

the new way there soon gives out

only shadows spill from whitewashed fences

only golden stone houses tout perfectly thatched roofs

the terrain turns rugged

birch trees guard the upward slopes

I reach a break from the woods

see infinity in the middle distance

dull reflections in the mirrored distance

the ordinary emptiness of an ordinary dawn

how many leagues have I traversed to know it

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