For St Lawrence


I watched Gower bat at Canterbury.
An autumn day.
A life ago.
There were no points
- No point in play -
For Leicestershire or Kent. 

And so I mused on former time
On heroes old
Whose portraits hang
Proud on pavilion walls. 

As Gower pushed the ball to leg
Or hit a four to deep long-off
I thought on how our fathers here
From these same seats
This grass
This tree
Watched Woolley batting in his prime. 

When they were young
Or nearly so
Old-timers then would think back, too,
To Trumper, Jessop
Even Grace
Enchanting them with graceful play
Raise batting from dull science
To an art. 

And those old men when Grace was young
Had heroes of their own -
From Alfred Mynn to Fuller Pilch
And ... 

... And
Those young lads down by the rope
When they are old and thinking back
On this September afternoon
Will gather memories today
To pass to those as yet unborn.
From Fuller Pilch, to Woolley, Gower ...
... the threads stretch on in endless time ...                                                                                            

A six disturbs my daytime dream
Or was it just a glance for four
Which ended lunch-time reverie?
There is no sense to what I see -
The title-pennant's gone elsewhere:
And so must we
Or else I shall miss
My next railway-train. 

What was the score?
Who made the runs?
I do not really care to know -
The cricket was so blessed slow
The batting cramped
The bowling tired
The fielders fumbled
Spectators yawned:
It was a day I shall forget
But ...

... But never
Can forget
That I have seen Frank Woolley bat
And Fuller Pilch,
And shared in some-one else's dream
Who in the days that are to come
Will say:
"I saw a batsman show his strokes
Like Gower in the days of old
Before him there was ...
Fuller Pilch".
And me ...
For I was there that day.

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