By the fire, so relaxed, As gentle sounds pervade my mind; The music flows, so tranquil, calm, Then back in time my thoughts unwind. On Banks of Green Willow now I sit, A lad, so young, upon the grass; By a stream - so peaceful now, Such bliss I feel, let naught surpass. Above - green willows, shady and cool, I see the branches gently sway; I hear the water softly flow, And smell the scent of new-mown hay. So sleepy now I close my eyes…… A pebble splashes – such a shock! A girl I see, so strangely clad, With stockings so black and long white smock. Another pebble – by my feet! She smiles at me, I turn away; My head I lower, so embarrassed I am But now she’s gone – my eyes betray? Relax! Relax! - a dream, I think! But now a gentle voice I hear “Take me home! Take me home!” I look and see there’s no one there. A dog now barks across the field, “Take me home.” I hear again; Disturbed I am, familiar she seemed – That smile I’ve seen, but seek in vain. So strange – I wonder - who was she? I close my eyes, so drowsy I feel; A cuckoo I hear, a woodpecker too, And rooks above now screech and wheel. I’m now awake – was this a dream? Back home, so snug, and by the fire; The music flows, so tranquil, calm, ‘The Banks of Green Willow’ my thoughts inspire. A box of photos I do recall! Up I sit! Could she be there? So old, forgotten long ago, In the attic, I declare! I Look, I gasp, my Gran I see! Clad in gown so strange, so neat; Her photo, so pretty, so young, On Banks of Green Willow - so sweet. So many, many years ago – Events so hard to understand; Back to fireside cosy and warm – Just an eerie dream unplanned? Back I lie, so relaxed, So happy and snug I feel - and yet - What’s this I find in my hand? A muddy pebble, so cold and wet! 24 April 2019 The music The Banks of Green Willow (from which this poem gets its title) was composed by George Butterworth in 1913. Born in 1885 he was Killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, aged only 31. This is the first of three poems based on his music. The second and third are short (in sort-of sonnet form) and express very different feelings.
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