Villages of the Detached Heart 

 Cycle with Celeste, Bouldon, Corvedale, Shropshire, 2ndAugust 2023



How can you compare and contrast

two things never seen only sensed:

An atmosphere or corner left behind                                    

that backward shadow edging across the mind

mislaid to the eyes

unclear – yet pre-eminent.                                                                



From social city to rural lostness

where does isolation or assurance triumph?

The crossing-keeper’s house keeps its stare on the rails

its redbrick back to these woods which crown the edge

hill ridge, not limit, end or fracture . . .

No windows face this way – of attack it lies blind

a strict human focus to disdain all mystery.              

Do not sing or show me the tears in your eyes

this deep country was ours until yesterday

landlocked far from every tide

barring those which fill and empty the head

with indecision.                                                                                  



Mansion or hovel and the circumstance of poverty,                         

struck dumb or smoothed away by croquet              

forget the callous lopsided stamp of history

unto money and materiality

embodied, extrinsic, intrinsic, mort . . .

which finds expression – direct or by default            

in a chain of moats and shattered sheds

red-flagged beans above nuclear sprouts

regimented vegetables perhaps, but embodying toil and care

to oppose the crosscut fade of pointless innovation.                        



Yet in the end, bland cars line the greens and smother the lanes    

to kill the freedom they propose

numbing every minefield of marrow

and straggling air-burst of rose –

faint scents in the dormitory of a world long asleep

to fairness

or questing ambition.                                                                        



What is forward, what reverse?

there is no answer but the one always sensed

silent, like the abandoned farm where the soldiers hide

escaping towards Dunkirk and find

a phantasmagoric rest, out of sight

under squadrons of nocturnal thrumming threat

an oppressive drone of black silhouettes overhead, but

a brief home (with lookout) nevertheless.

Inside, away from creaking cottage panes,

a comforting childhood throwback to friendly barns and proper eggs

crooked landings and calm wallpaper, billets in the eaves

an interlude which cannot last

sliding to deep deathless oversleep, that pillow-cloud of dreams

before panic breaks with the morning light,

a glimpse of movement seen too late,

seven stairs stricken, 

doors burst open

protective walls out of reach . . .

murderous machine-gun behind the oast house

explodes a stream of bullets

fierce-chatter among the orchards, apple and cherry of my eye

and Eden is destroyed


all blossom denied.    



                         *        *        *        *



High summer in Shropshire and more than eighty years have passed,

have we become a different race?

Looking down from the wooded edge,

the villages of my heart were never tied to place

yet remain both vivid and detached,

fictional ideal, communities out of reach,

a hub of doorways and lives only sensed:

an atmosphere or crossroads moving on

left behind and found again,

a forward light drawing the mind

through woods, fields, another sequence of lanes

– towards the pub’s tranquil garden

or the maze’s quiet end.        






Lawrence Freiesleben






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