In the Village

Britannia Rules the Waves

Are eyelids on eyes lying and lifting
Pretended or indifferent attention?
Blink, blink their breathed-on sleep;

Drink a million small grey visions
Through gable and garret-windows, diamond-panes,
Shuttering so fast the architecture’s shattered.

Queen Elizabeth had a dress of eyes,
Embroidered to embarrass courtiers
Who bowed and stared at eyes outside the House.

One ancient eye with veins, with whitened lashes,
Reproached Canute seated in an armchair
But did not weep for him—although it wept.

Canute couldn’t, Canute can’t.
Elizabeth adopted a different policy,
As long as seas can always look their fill.