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MCMXIV

by
Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park 
The crowns of hats the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops the bleached 
Established names on the sunblinds 
The farthings and sovereigns 
Adn dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens 
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside ont caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses 
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence 
Never before or since 
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy 
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a littlewhile longer:
Never such innocence again.
1964

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