Golf Behind Trees
An elegant course is exposed by newly opened air. There used to be a thick hedge, armed with trees. We would hear the thwack of their swings and hits followed by good silence or disappointing scutter. In days gone by, for all we could see, those golfers might have been naked, their natural undulations at play. Now, they must cover all that and more beneath tailored sporting attire with ornate crests. We might pause a moment to watch them drive across a stream we didn’t know was there before. They strike their shots with an orderly violence and mumble litanies of praise or commiseration.
Fire Round the Window
All Saints, Burton Dassett
Trees encroach from a slope on the east side, edging down to a boundary wall which contains these swathes of grass, a crowd of headstones. The detail on some memorials is all but erased, lettering worn away or hidden beneath lichen. The names on others are fresh cut and clear. A setting sun glowing through foliage is more than a trick of the light. This ironstone church becomes translucent – the fire within, without. For the time it takes the rock to burn a little and then resolve itself, the air doesn’t move, except on the hill where sheep are bleating.
Oliver writes: ‘Golf Behind Trees’ is another of the Pitshanger Park poems, set near where I live in Ealing. Located in resonant South Warwickshire landscape, Burton Dassett is a place I went to many times as a child and which I still visit as an adult.