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Work and Play

Written by: Ted Hughes | Biography
 | Quotes (1) |
 The swallow of summer, she toils all the summer,
A blue-dark knot of glittering voltage,
A whiplash swimmer, a fish of the air.
 But the serpent of cars that crawls through the dust
 In shimmering exhaust
 Searching to slake
 Its fever in ocean
 Will play and be idle or else it will bust. 

The swallow of summer, the barbed harpoon,
She flings from the furnace, a rainbow of purples,
Dips her glow in the pond and is perfect.
 But the serpent of cars that collapsed on the beach
 Disgorges its organs
 A scamper of colours
 Which roll like tomatoes
 Nude as tomatoes
 With sand in their creases
 To cringe in the sparkle of rollers and screech. 

The swallow of summer, the seamstress of summer,
She scissors the blue into shapes and she sews it,
She draws a long thread and she knots it at the corners.
 But the holiday people
 Are laid out like wounded
 Flat as in ovens
 Roasting and basting
 With faces of torment as space burns them blue
 Their heads are transistors
 Their teeth grit on sand grains
 Their lost kids are squalling
 While man-eating flies
 Jab electric shock needles but what can they do? 

They can climb in their cars with raw bodies, raw faces
 And start up the serpent
 And headache it homeward
 A car full of squabbles
 And sobbing and stickiness
 With sand in their crannies
 Inhaling petroleum
 That pours from the foxgloves
 While the evening swallow
The swallow of summer, cartwheeling through crimson,
Touches the honey-slow river and turning
Returns to the hand stretched from under the eaves -
A boomerang of rejoicing shadow.