The Children

Digging a changeful hole
To cast its light on ground or naked bole
This small sun through the crowd of shaking leaves
A doubtful passage cleaves
And looks no larger than the moon;
Though in the early days of June
Green caterpillars ate their fill
Among these hazels' mealy leaves until
Some boughs were stript half-bare
And leaves hung riddled with clear holes of air.

It seems the stranger then
To see this hazel bough budded as when
Hung in bright rows the drops of April rain;
But as I look again
Those small buds young and green
Withered and old are seen
Set on a broken and down-fallen bough;
And seeing them I think of how
The faces of those children were upturned
Withered and old to where the blue sky burned,
Some screwing their shut eyes in the sun's glare,
Some looking up with a white open stare,
For arm in arm those children walked in blindness;
To take the ditch was a small kindness,
For turning with me on the road
With pointing finger those blind children showed.
How many lovely things,
White butterflies stumbling with heavy wings,
Ragwort's cheap gold and dusty loose-stringed nettles,
Hedges scattered with rusting privet petals
And freaked with stems of carted hay,
The oats-field rustling its dry spray
And the streaked bindweed bells beneath,
And where my pathway took the open heath
The small round pellets of the rabbits
That are untidy in their habits,
All lovely things that otherwise
I had not seen with my clear-sighted eyes.
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