The picture hangs in our hallway. It's a print
Not signed or anything grand, by Rowland Hilder,
Which shows a country road, like Hobbema's
At Middleharnis, which the connoisseur
Is walking down. In prospect there are elms,
A couple of big hay ricks and a man,
Steering a horse-drawn plough. Finally hills.
He painted it in nineteen thirty-six.
It's honest work. It just gets on with the job
Of putting a view across. It might have served
That year in
A tractor in there, for the modern movement
Doesn’t impinge at all. It could be any
Year in the past two hundred. As it is
The year means something. Nineteen thirty-six
Was the year that Kipling, Chesterton, Housman died.
It's running thin, that pastoral tradition.
It's like the river Roche, the living water
Canalised as it flows through
Buried deep in a fosse. Almost unseen,
The shallow flood goes past the library
And seven tower blocks, an anomaly,
Not carrying freight or turning wheels and yet
Unstoppable. And nice to know it's there.