I You may say this is no poem but I will remember this hour till I die: the clock from the old bell-tower says two but the sun climbing in the sky-clock points noon, exactly noon; May 14 says the calendar, and the steps of William’s orangery at Kensington, become the Venetian doge’s water-stair: exact perfection, I am 56, the may-trees blossom: the wall-door under the chestnut-tree that I nor anyone else ever saw open, opens and lets out a carpenter: he has his chisel, I have my pencil: he mends the broken window-frame of the orangery, I mend a break in time. II Do you remember over there, how a sparrow got caught in the lily-roots (fleur-de-lis or water-lily) of King William IVth’s water –trough, in Dutch William’s Dutch garden? do you remember how you leapt the fast-locked iron-gate, and where no profane foot was ever set (and only the head-gardener’s sacrosanct under-gardener’s favourites might potter) you untangled the sparrow’s foot from the threads of the lily-root? III A canoe slips from under a rhododendron-bush, or is it Danielli’s gondola, trailing its purple stuff? the old clock ticks, but I hear drop-drop of an older water-clock; the leaves whisper, or is it a card-game in the orangery? bright ghosts? is it sun-light or jets of the candle-points on the unbroken window-panes? here is one whole, here is one nicely set with matchbox wood, or varnished cardboard, so the uneven squares make patch-work; humanity returns to this exquisite untidy place, and oddly with humanity the fashionable ghosts come back; is it clock-tick? is it the snip-snap of a snuff –box? or a patch-box? is it an older water-clock? is it the delicate, only-just perceptible whisper of the hour-glass? is it a later fashionable hour-glass lady? or merely a box-tree? is it a lady in a hoop or is it a box-tree peacock? this placard announces: The damage to this room is part of the destruction caused by German incendiary bombs dropped on Kensington Palace, 14 October, 1940; but enemy action has not driven away the happy ghosts somehow it has brought them back; this is not a poem only a day to remember, I say the war is over . . . the war is over . . . IV He said (last winter), these people have the advantage over us, and I was sorry, God knows I was sorry enough; the burnt-red of Texas or the sun-burnt bronze of his Arizona desert had not had time to wear off, and the rest of them stood in the rain, a neat line waiting, not saying anything, but he barked from a young angry throat, these people have the advantage: so we did, so we had, we shuffled along in the rain, a dingy crowd with fish-baskets, old rain-coats, funny umbrellas, a motley host, dim, undistinguished, water-rats in the water, land-rats in the gutter. V These people have the advantage over us, did he speak for himself or for the rest of the rest of the bronze giants? I wanted to stop, slithered along, web-footed, trying to work out in that moment, whether it were better to stop, to speak, but I was embarrassed by the neat row of them, drawn up on the pavement, and what would I say anyway? I wanted to say I was sorry, actually thinking of them, not of us. VI I wanted to say I was sorry, but why should I? but anyway I did want to say I was sorry, but how could I? who was I? I wanted to say, yes, we’re used to it, we have the advantage, you’re new to it; we’ve slithered so long in the rain, prowled like cats in the dark, like owls in the black-out, look at us—anaemic, good-natured, for a rat in the gutter’s a rat in the gutter, consider our fellowship, look at each one of us, we’ve grown alike, slithering, slipping along with fish-baskets, grey faces, fish-faces, frog gait, we slop, we hop, we’re off to the bread-queue, the meat-shop, the grocery, an egg?—really madam—maybe to-morrow— one here—one there—another one over there is heroic (who’d know it?) heroic? no bronze face— no no no what am I saying? VII It was Goldie, that was her vulgar name, (one of these was her mother); better move over, the fire-man said, miss, getting a bit hot, miss, (look out look out wall!) better run your little bus around the other side, cigarette miss? he offered her a cigarette because . . . he thought . . . for a minute . . . he might push her out of it . . . it’s no use Frank, that’s Goldie— what of it? she’s a kid, she’s too young—shut up, all the kids are in it. Goldie wouldn’t move away, she was told to stay. VIII Goldie had her picture in a little exhibition, Goldie was in the news for half a second, Goldie had her little job, ambulance? mobile canteen? extra fire-girl? I don’t know, I only just remember the caption, a line and a half, below the newspaper photograph, which said: known as Goldie because of her fair hair, she was found sitting upright at the wheel of her emergency car, dead. IX Goldie was one of us, we are one with Goldie; Arizona desert, Texas and Arkinsaw, how could you know, you did not see what we saw: Goldie was only one, Goldie’s all around us, gutter-rats, land-rats, look at us, slop flop, stop hop, past Arkinsaw, Kansas drawn up on the pavement: no one will tell you; only I, one of you, one of them, know the rune, only I can play the tune, make the song, tell the story of Goldie: Goldie made the words come true, the sun never sets on . . . anaemic faces in the line waiting in the bread-queue. X The reason is: rats leave the sinking ship but we . . . we . . . didn’t leave, so the ship didn’t sink, and that’s madness, Lear’s song, that’s Touchstone’s forest-jest, that’s Swan of Avon logic: the ship didn’t sink because the rats knew the timber true: the ship-rats hop flop along the pavement-deck a-wash, O Kansas, O Arkinsaw, Goldie wouldn’t move away, Goldie was told to stay. XI Frog faces, frog lust, frog bellies in the dust, till unexpected flame gave you another name: (there’s the siren wail again, May 15; by the clock, near 6, that’s 4 by the sun): frog faces, frog lust. frog bellies in the dust of the Last Judgment Day: when winter-fog is gone, the frogs sits in the sun, and now you can see strawberry-leaves on a crown, a lion, a unicorn: now you can clearly see what frogs in the sun become: salamanders in the flame, heraldic wings surround the name English from Englisc from Engle, Angle from the Angles who settled in Briton. XII Now you can clearly see why I sing this mystery of Goldie, Angel in the sun, of Goldie up with the fire-alarm, now this stocking, now the other shoe on, of Goldie who ran and chaffed the telephone-girl because she laughed at Goldie lazy but up with the gong: sea-nymphs hourly ring his kneel (hers rather—Goldie’s--) ding dong bell. XIII Goldilocks, Goldilocks let down your hair, for we have never seen anywhere a thread so delicate, spun so fair: Goldie in a tissue-paper frock hunts for strawberries in the snow, or was that another? anyhow Goldie or Gretel in woollen socks scatters bread-crumbs to show the way through the dark forest, or did you say a Saint with Halo beside a wheel is set on an altar where people kneel, to take their bread from a priest, instead of Gretel who changed her crumbs for pebbles? the pebbles lay like little shells under green-boughs that swayed like water, while over and through it swam sea-girls; the youngest princess begged feet for fins, Goldie, Gretel or Saint Catherine?