‘Peace in East Sussex’ – a poem by Colin Falck

 

The below poem is taken from Colin Falck’s final poetry collection, Leni’s Triumph, published by Shoestring Press shortly before his death in December at the age of 86. Copies are available to purchase online here

 


 

    Peace in East Sussex

 

These old joiners'-wood trees, beech and oak and ash,
have stood their ground here for centuries. Through weather-lore's "soak and splash"
they have survived the seasons and foretold each coming summer,
friends to St Swithin and to changing cloud-formations.
Through reforms and persecutions they have escaped all axe-
wielders, their forebears witness to dancing-plagues and mass hysterias.

This early-summer breeze, fresh from the invasion coast
of Viking, Dane and Norman, seems hesitant, deferential almost:
there have been houses here for a thousand years, and there are new ones still.
Can this be England - unburdened now, shorn of her empire,
gathering her strength here? - enduring, safe as of old,
not part of the Europe where wars have rolled.

There are seventeen names on this lichened memorial. Lives
go on, plan their futures, expire in these wistaria'd drives
and have turned their backs on history. It will be a peaceful evening.
No storm-troops will visit, no books be read, or burned; no cattle-trucks arrive.
The sun will go down behind these clouded hills as always. A butterfly flutters by.

 

Colin Falck

About Colin Falck

Colin Falck (1934-2020) was a literary critic and poet. He was associate professor in modern literature at York College of Pennsylvania and, in 1962, co-founded The Review with Ian Hamilton, Michael Fried, and John Fuller. His publications include 'Myth, Truth and Literature: Towards a True Postmodernism' (Cambridge University Press, 1989) and 'American and British Verse in the Twentieth Century: The Poetry that Matters' (Ashgate, 2003). His poetry includes 'Post-Modern Love: An Unreliable Narration' (Stride, 1997) and 'Leni's Triumph' (Shoestring Press, 2020).