A Lambeth Garland

Songs, to music by Penelope Thwaites, for the renovation of the Lambeth Palace Garden in 1987

1. The Lambeth Waltz
A garden gracious, serene and spacious at Lambeth –
This is the dream, the vision that shall be its crown,
A waltz of flowers, a dance of hours
To grace this ancient heart of London Town

A garden gracious, serene and spacious, a peaceful
Heaven on earth, a haven from the busy throng,
A place for dreaming, a vision gleaming,
Sweet Thames run softly till we end our song.

Lambeth Palace invites you to a prospect old and new,
Greener vistas are beck’ning and the promise can come true –

A garden gracious, serene and spacious at Lambeth –
This is the dream, the vision that shall be its crown,
A waltz of flowers, a dance of hours
To grace this ancient heart of London Town.

2. The Gardener’s Song
A task unending is garden-tending,
A gardener needs a watchful eye and busy hands,
He is creator and conservator,
He deals with problems every gardener understands,
With constant weeding and timely feeding,
He is a nurse, protector, mastermind in one,
With clipping hedges and trimming edges
It’s no surprise a gardener’s work is never done –
(whistles)

To work with nature (that fickle creature)
He needs a resolution nothing undermines,
For while he’s sleeping the snails are creeping
And slugs are working out their devious designs.
From grubs and aphis no blossom safe is,
Unless the watchful gardener hurries with his spray,
When seeds are springing the birds come winging
And frost and tempest wait to sweep the blooms away –
(whistles)

In dedication he leads the nation,
You will not find him in the corridors of power,
But our suggestion is hard to question,
That gardeners are of humankind the very flower.

3. Song of a Scotsman
Can there be a corner that of Scottish earth tells –
Rushing burn and rocky glen and bonny blue bells?
Here’s a garden where the larch and rowan find room,
Telling of the Highlands when the heather’s in bloom.

Scots were hae! Though far away the road to the Isles,
Trossachs and Loch Lomond and the air that beguiles,
Here’s a place in London that will lighten your gloom
Telling of the Highlands when the heather’s in bloom.

But och, away, it’s no so bad,
There’s ither pleasures to be had,
A Scot can still have cheerful days,
Tho’ far from Scotland’s banks and braes.

Forget the Forth, forget the Clyde,
I’ll tak a walk by Thames’s side
I’ll rest my eyes, my mind relax
On flowers that please the Sassenachs,

Foxglove, lupin, marigold,
Canny violets, dahlia’s bold,
Pansies, stocks, delphinium,
Hollyhock, poppy and geranium.

Scots were hae! Though far away the road to the Isles,
Trossachs and Loch Lomond and the air that beguiles,
Here’s a place in London that will lighten your gloom,
Telling of the Highlands when the heather’s in bloom.

4. An English Rose
In a garden’s range there’s a wealth of change
And flowers of every hue
From the purple stocks to the brilliant phlox,
Hydrangeas pink and blue.
There are daisies white and petunias bright
That the seasons will disclose
But those blossoms rare just can’t compare
With a genuine English rose.

Look at nature’s arts in distant parts
Each strange and rare device
From the jungle gloom to an alpine bloom,
Hibiscus, edelweiss,
You can sail away into far Cathay
Or the land where the Bong-tree grows,
But the blooms you’ll find won’t please your mind
Like a genuine English rose.

5. The Wildlife Garden
Here, where once the Briton, Roman, Saxon wandered free,
Let this garden be a promise all who come can see,
By Old Thames with clearer stream and fishes known before
Living things of earth and air shall find a home, and harmony restore.

In this heart of teeming London, wilderness shall flower,
Leafy walks in rain and sun and peaceful evening hour,
Morning light and starry night the scented air shall bring,
Creatures of the wild return, and joyful birds in concert nest and sing.

6. Reprise: The Lambeth Waltz
A garden growing, a river flowing, a peaceful
Heaven on earth, a haven from the busy throng,
A place for dreaming, a vision gleaming,
Sweet Thames run softly till we end our song.

Roar and bustle and clamour, as the traffic thunders by,
Walks and flowers and woodland to refresh the mind and eye.

A garden gracious, serene and spacious at Lambeth –
This is the dream, the vision that shall be its crown,
A waltz of flowers, a dance of hours
To grace this ancient heart of London Town.

Tributes

  • Relativity

    “Boy killed on Bicycle”; smallest print, four lines
    Islanded in a tossing sea of type,

  • Surmise

    My little son, whose face I never saw,
    Who could not wait to bless your father ’s eyes

  • Coming into the Clyde

    Part of me for ever is the January morning
    Coming into the Clyde in the frosty moonlight

  • For Yarmuk, Elder of the Ulupna Tribe

    A worn-out body laid in quiet earth,
    Attendant trees, a wattle’s throb of gold,

  • For James Ralph Darling

    In that keen morning it was good to wake.
    The sun that roused the swans on the lagoon

  • Boris Pasternak

    This death of a man, this sudden stop of life,
    Such total end, or such a faring forth
    Into what regions?

  • Post-mortem

    When a man dies
    We find that suddenly there’s time to praise him.

  • A Message to my Grandson

    You chose a marvellous morning to be born,
    The orange edge of dawn, the stars paling,

  • Bamboo: A Portrait

    The bamboo cut to suit you from our garden
    Has become your favourite stick – dried and varnished

  • Fragment of a Chinese Classic

    Catching the distinctive T’ang of old China
    She chooses for herself the character of Punctual Autumn

  • The Honey Man

    Like liquid silk in golden eddies
    the honey laps into my tin.

  • For my brother: Ave atque Vale

    Brother fare well, journeying to that Kingdom
    Of faithful servants, and of work fulfilled

  • Farewell to Skye

    Little death of a little dog
    In a death-wish world of news by body-count

  • Ballad of Old Sox

    They’re burning Old Sox’s shack
    Just two weeks since he died.

  • A Lambeth Garland

    A garden gracious, serene and spacious at Lambeth –
    This is the dream, the vision that shall be its crown

  • Banquet

    ..You they found fallen, holding a garden hose,
    Where, year on year, you watered, weeded, nurtured things to grow.

  • Taking Leave

    Ninety years youthful, questing through generations,
    historian of two hemispheres, quickener of other minds,

  • Anna-versary

    Anna is one
    What fun, what fun

  • Fred Hollows

    Raged, raged against the death of others’ light,
    Toiled, fought, till sick and blind received their sight.

  • Yudina

    I praise a heroine of the Soviet Union,
    pianist Yudina, through Moscow’s gloom
    spelling a Mozart magical concerto.

  • Letter to Judith Wright

    ..apartness conquered by the power of love.
    Carry us with you as you journey on.

  • For Nkosi Johnson

    His question ranged the echoing galaxies
    of empty cold unanswering space, returning
    home to our earth.

Poems of Nature

  • Lines written in meditation upon the recent moth plague

    Moths! Moths! Moths!
    In trouser-leg, singlet and shirt..

  • Timber

    “Up here the schooners used to come
      For timber, years ago,

  • Forestry

    My love and I in all agree
       As one, save this thing only:

  • Acknowledgements…

    Not vile, body, nor foe, flesh,
    Your joys deluding, triumphs trash,
    Fit to be foiled your every wish.

  • Sleeping out in the Mountains

    The host of hills encamped around,
    The sleepless army of the stars,

  • Easter Hymn

    Out of the cloud my Lord the Sun,
    Out of the earth my Lady Spring,

  • The Tactician

    Spring held her fire
    So long, the long pursuit, the watchers wondered
    Would there be ever an end

  • Barometric Man

    Twelve foot’s the rise and fall
    Of barometric Man

  • On Cathedral Mountain

    This mountain means discovery, since the day
    I climbed it first in boyhood and alone,

  • Flying to New Zealand

    Hauled headlong starward by the quadruple conviction
    Of lion-lunged engines in their pride of power

  • Point Lonsdale

    Dark sea dark land lie close beneath
    The muffling guilt of night,

  • Watershed

    From this rock spine, not three feet wide,
    Rivers of a continent divide

  • Autumn Song

    The sun like a centaur leaping the ranges
    Shoots to the heart my garden, shatters
    The dew in a volley of wild carillons

  • The Gull

    Riding the wind, in planetary sweep,
    The gull wheels on the radius of a wing.

  • Creation

    Straggling off the highway in search of firewood
    Past the tins and bottles, through the rusty wire,

  • Address to Mount Bogong

    Stentorian mountain, resonant as your name,
    I greet you with joy, I greet you, I give you thanks

  • Shoreham Morning

    The rousing sun’s sea-dance and dazzle
    Burnishes grassy cape and cliff,

  • Rain after Drought

    Waking to a diapason in the downpipe
    I peer through curtained panes to a curtained sky

  • Christmas Tree

    You hold the timeless in your brief green boughs
    The cardboard angels, home-made crib, the straw,
    The new-born baby older than Abraham

  • A Talk to the Willow

    When you were caught red-rooted in the drain
    You wept of course, but did the same again

  • Sea Change

    Down the cliff path, in morning sun
    Sliding, we stopped. The beach had gone,

  • Last Stand

    These trees reached up for light
    when Jesus walked on earth,

  • Metamorphosis

    The young magpie, as large as either parent,
    Piteously pleads the pathos of his need.

  • Splitting the Red Box

    The tree-trunk rounds, a fallen Doric column,
    are tumbled on the grass beside my gate.

  • Sea Waif

    No dolphin it was, but a six-month suckling whale
    gashed and shark-mauled, tribeless, motherless,

  • Farewell to Skye

    Little death of a little dog
    In a death-wish world of news by body-count

  • Uluru

    At first it seemed a trek of migrant ants
    climbing the skyline of this great red rock

  • A Lambeth Garland

    A garden gracious, serene and spacious at Lambeth –
    This is the dream, the vision that shall be its crown

  • Cultural Interface

    ..Three kangaroos, grey eminences, rose
    staring, paws crossed, with worried faces fixed,

  • The Sun Ringing

    I heard a man of science tell:
    The sun is ringing like a bell,

  • Equal Rights for Emus

    Come down from that Crest! It’s Australia Day, Emu –
    We just want to say, mate, how much we esteem you.

  • Tsunami

    … obliterating in instant mini-time
    a universe of suns and planets
    with or without their myriad forms of life,

  • Mousetrap

    With joyless spade I dig the tiny grave
    Asking, who made me lord of life or death?

  • Stumpy-tail Spring

    He lies unblinking, back and corpulent,
    first lizard from his hibernation sleep