Winter workout

Now, after days confined by snow,
I venture out of doors, at last,
To witness Winter’s overthrow.
But where the banks and hedges cast
Their shade, the lanes are smooth as glass,
Reminding me that time must pass
Before we’re free, and every tree
Is dressed in new Spring finery.

The fields, snow-covered inches deep
Gleam in the pale sun at noon;
The woods lie silent, still asleep,
No sign that they’ll awaken soon.
The redwing and the fieldfare
Still haunt the hedgerows; they don’t dare
Leave till we’re free, and every tree
Is dressed in new Spring finery.

The air is eager, nips at skin
On face and fingers as I ride.
This is no day for staying in:
Too long I’ve missed the world outside.
My mind is clear, my spirits soar;
The day will soon come when, once more,
The land is free, and every tree
Is dressed in new Spring finery.  

 

A workout in two senses: a physical one, in that I’ve finally got back on the road today for the first time since Saturday; and a poetical one, this time inspired by another great literary hero of mine, William Barnes. Born in 1801, Barnes wrote much of his verse in the dialect of his native Dorset, which is also where I spent my formative years. A true polymath – he was a schoolmaster, clergyman, composer, skilled engraver and linguist familiar with over 60 languages – Barnes is generally considered a ‘minor’ poet, though he was revered by Thomas Hardy and WH Auden, among others. Probably his best-known dialect poem, on which this vastly inferior effort of mine is based, is Linden Lea; the famous musical setting was the first composition ever published by Ralph Vaughan Williams.