Only last week did the lime trees on Wenlock’s Linden Walk show any real signs of coming into leaf. The avenue itself was a faint haze of juicy green. The leaves may be late, but they sum up the sap-filled exuberance of spring.
Another sign of spring around English villages and towns, is the weekend sight of chaps in their whites lingeringly engaged in the friendly cricket match. It’s one of those things, cricket. I scarcely understand the game, but I’m glad someone does. Or to quote the chorus from 10CC’s Dreadlock Holiday “I don’t like cricket, oh no, I love it”. At least I love the idea of it: a quintessential cultural marker layered with notions of perfect summers that never were.
It conjures ghosts too. The thwack of ball on willow. Resounding cheers at a good catch. An inexplicable sense of something lost. This doubtless explains why many cricketing poems are interwoven with strands of war. Here’s one such from A E Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad cycle, poem XVII. It alludes to young men lost in the Boer War:
- Twice a week the winter thorough
- Here stood I to keep the goal:
- Football then was fighting sorrow
- For the young man’s soul.
- Now in Maytime to the wicket
- Out I march with bat and pad:
- See the son of grief at cricket
- Trying to be glad.
- Try I will; no harm in trying:
- Wonder ’tis how little mirth
- Keeps the bones of man from lying
- On the bed of earth.
And now to relieve that sombre note, my May gallery in and around the Linden Field:
To join in Cardinal Guzman’s The Changing Seasons challenges go HERE