Literary Influences

John Elsberg

Up the Gog and Magog hills
     to the Wandlebury Ring,
          to the Roman road that leads
in each direction to the highest point

on the line with the sky--and I said
     mere scenery, with a resonance
          only in words. But as the hills
fell away from the sun, as the dust blew across

the wide, black bed of the valley,
     and as the crows in the shadows
          began to look peculiar,
we fell into a silence that walked with us

like a name we could not remember.
     The sky grew darker, and the wind
          stiffened our backs as if
our progress back to the car was a matter of pride.

But at last the spell was broken.
     "It does seem," said the London poet,
          slowing and calling after us,
"that we all have been reading too much of Ted Hughes!"

                          (*Wandlebury Ring: site of an Iron Age fort, Cambridgeshire.)


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