Don't go outside the garden, Maud –
the city dump stops right behind the fence;
the rats run riot to our great expense.
The view, I fear, is rather flawed.
Just stay a while with me
to hear the blackbird greet the setting sun.
Look, overhead! It's up that slender tree
and has its peer in none!
That tree's a birch – when I was still a girl
my mother used to teach me what to call
each plant and tree. I still remember all
and how those days would set my mind awhirl;
now I'll teach you... If only when you reach
my age there will be something left to teach...
Those branches can't be trusted, Maud -
They might break off and hurt you. Yes, I know.
The bird will not return. We loved it so;
let's hope it's found its way abroad.
We'll rest against the wall.
Yes, that's a nettle, and those little hairs
may sorely sting you, hence the name it bears –
and yet it's pretty. It's got grace, and shows
a certain dignity. With luck it grows
well over six foot tall.
I'll take you to the garden, Maud –
those rats have vanished though the smell has not –
yet there's still something pleasant to be got
on this old earth. We won't be bored;
come sit down in the grass and rest
your narrow back against my breast
and look! This ear of grass
is just a bunch of flowers – tidy, small,
but every bit a germ of life withal
to grow when winters pass.
I wish you still were with me, Maud –
the grey and dirty snows have thawed away
and it gets warmer every single day,
a change you'd surely have adored –
and yet it's strange...
just browns and ochres, blacks and greys,
a smell of must and moist, of acid earth,
the silent sunset's angry crimson blaze –
and this that mystical rebirth,
that hoped-for change?