Louis MacNeice

The Cyclist

Freewheeling down the escarpment past the unpassing horse  
Blazoned in chalk the wind he causes in passing 
Cools the sweat of his neck, making him one with the sky,  
In the heat of the handlebars he grasps the summer 
Being a boy and to-day a parenthesis 
Between the horizon’s brackets; the main sentence  
Is to be picked up later but these five minutes 
Are all to-day and summer. The dragonfly 
Rises without take-off, horizontal, 
Underlining itself in a sliver of peacock light.

And glaring, glaring white 
The horse on the down moves within his brackets,  
The grass boils with grasshoppers, a pebble  
Scutters from under the wheel and all this country  
Is spattered white with boys riding their heat-wave,  
Feet on a narrow plank and hair thrown back

And a surf of dust beneath them. Summer, summer —  
They chase it with butterfly nets or strike it into the deep  
In a little red ball or gulp it lathered with cream 
Or drink it through closed eyelids; until the bell  
Left-right-left gives his forgotten sentence 
And reaching the valley the boy must pedal again  
Left-right-left but meanwhile 
For ten seconds more can move as the horse in the chalk  
Moves unbeginningly calmly 
Calmly regardless of tenses and final clauses 
Calmly unendingly moves.