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Heavy Horses

© Ian Anderson 1978


....And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps

Muscled, black with steel-green eye
Swishing through the rye grass
with thoughts of mouse-and-apple pie
Tail balancing at half-mast.
....And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps
lying in the cherry tree.
Savage bed foot-warmer
of purest feline ancestry.
Look out, little furry folk!
He's the all-night working cat
Eats but one in every ten
leaves the others on the mat.

....And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps
waiting by the cellar door.
Window-boxtown-crier;
birth and death registrar.
With claws that rake a furrow red
Licensed to multilate.
From warm milk on a lazy day
to dawn patrol on hungry hate
....No, The Mouse Police Never Sleeps
climbing on the ivy.
Windy roof-top weathercock
Warm-blooded night on a cold tile.



Acres Wild

I'll make love to you
in all good places
under black mountains
in open spaces.
By deep brown rivers
that slither darkly
through far marches
where the blue hare races.

Come with me to the Winged Isle
Northern father's Western child
Where the dance of ages is playing still
through far marches of Acres Wild

I'll make love to you
in narrowside streets
with shuttered windows,
crumbling chimneys
By red bricks pointed
with cement fingers
Flaking damply from sagging shoulders.

Come with me to the weary town
Discos silent under tiles
that slide from roof-tops, scatter softly
on concrete marches of Acres Wild.



No Lullaby

Keep your eyes open and prick up your ears --
rehearse your loudest cry.
There's folk out there who would do you harm
so I'll sing you no lullaby.
There's a lock on the window; there's a chain on the door:
a big dog in the hall.
But there's dragons and beasties out there in the night
to snatch you if you fall.

So come out fighting with your rattle in hand.
Thrust and parry. Light
a match to catch the devil's eye. Bring
a cross of fire to the fight.

And let no sleep bring false relief
from the tension of the fray.
Come wake the dead with the scream of life.
Do battle with ghosts at play.

Gather your toys at the call-to-arms
and swing your big bear down
Upon our necks when we come to set
you sleeping safe and sound.

It's as well we tell no lie
to chase the face that cries
And little birds can't fly
so keep an open eye.
It's as well we tell no lie
so I'll sing you no lullaby.



Moths

The leaded window opened
to move the dancing candle flame
And the first Moths of summer
suicidal came
And a new breeze chattered
in its May-bud tenderness
Sending water-lillies sailing
as she turned to get undressed.
And the long night awakened
and we soared on powdered wings
Circling our tomorrows
in the wary mouth of Spring.
Chasing shadows slipping
in a magic lantern slide
Creatures of the candle
on a night-light-ride.
Dipping and weaving flutter
through the golden needle's eye
in our haystack madness. Butterfly-stroking
on a Spring-tide high.
Life's too long (as the Lemming said)
as the candle burned and the Moths were wed.
And we'll all burn together as the wick grows higher
before the candle's dead.

The leaded window opened
to move the dancing candle flame.
And the first moths of summer
suicidal came
to join in worship
of the light that never dies
in a moment's reflection
of two Moths spinning in her eyes.



Journeyman

Spine-tingling railway sleepers
Sleepy houses lying four-square and firm
Orange beams divide the darkness
Rumbling fit to turn the waking worm.
Sliding through Victorian tunnels
where green moss oozes from the pores.
Dull echoes from the wet embankments
Battlefield allotments. Fresh open sores.

In late night commuter madness
Double-locked black briefcase on the floor
like a faithful dog with master
sleeping in the draught beside the carriage door.
To each Journeyman his own home-coming
Cold supper nearing with each station stop
Frosty flakes on empty platforms
Fireside slippers waiting -- Flip. Flop.

Journeyman night-tripping on the late fantasic
Too late to stop for tea at Gerrards Cross
and hear the soft shoes on the footbridge shuffle
as the wheels turn biting on the midnight frost.
On the late commuter special
Carriage lights that flicker, fade and die
Howling into hollow blackness
Dusky diesel shudders in full cry
Down redundant morning papers
Abandon crosswords with a cough.
Stationmaster in his wisdom
told the guard to turn the heating off.



Rover

I chase your every footstep
and I follow every whim.
When you call the tune I'm ready
to strike up the battle hymn.
My lady of the meadows
My comber of the beach
You've thrown the stick for your dog's trick
but it's floating out of reach.
The long road is a rainbow and the pot of gold lies there.
So slip the chain and I'm off again.
You'll find me everywhere. I'm a Rover.

As the robin craves the summer
to hide his smock of red,
I need the pillow of your hair
in which to hide my head.
I'm simple in my sadness;
resourceful in remorse.
Then I'm down straining at the lead
holding on a windward course.

Strip me from the bundle
of balloons at every fair:
coluorful and carefree
designed to make you stare.
But I'm lost and I'm losing
the thread that holds me down.
And I'm up hot and rising
in the lights of every town.



One Brown Mouse

Smile your little smile, take some tea with me awhile.
Brush away that black cloud from your shoulder.
Twitch your whiskers. Feel that you're really real.
Another tea-time, another day older.

Puff warm breath on your tiny hands.
You wish you were a man
who every day can turn another page.
Behind your glass you sit and look
at my ever-open book
One Brown Mouse sitting in a cage.

Do you wonder if I really care for you
Am I just the company you keep
Which one of us exercises on the old treadmill
Who hides his head, pretending to sleep?

Smile your little smile, take some tea with me awhile.And every day we'll turn
another page.
Behind our glass we'll sit and look
at our ever-open book
One Brown Mouse sitting in a cage.



Heavy Horses

Iron-clad feather-feet pounding the dust
An October's day, towards evening.
Sweat embossed veins standing proud to the plough
Salt on a deep chest seasoning.
Last of the line at an honest day's toil
Turning the deep sod under.
Flint at the fetlock, chasing the bone
Flies at the nostrils plunder.

The Suffolk, the Clydesdale, the Percheron vie
with the Shire on his feathers floating
Hauling soft timber into the dusk
to bed on a warm straw coating.

Heavy Horses, move the land under me
Behind the plough gliding, slipping and sliding free.
Now you're down to the few and there's no work to do
The tractor's on its way.

Let me find you a filly for your proud stallion seed
To keep the old line going.
And we'll stand you abreast at the back of the wood
Behind the young trees growing
To hide you from eyes that mock at your girth,
and your eighteen hands at the shoulder
And one day when the oil barons have all dripped dry
and the nights are seen to draw colder
They'll beg for your strength, your gentle power
your noble grace and your bearing
And you'll strain once again to the sound of the gulls
in the wake of the deep plough, sharing.

Standing like tanks on the brow of the hill
Up into the cold wind facing
In stiff battle harness, chained to the world
Against the low sun racing.

Bring me a wheel of oaken wood
A rein of polished leather
A Heavy Horse and a tumbling sky
Brewing heavy weather.

Bring a song for the evening
Clean brass to flash the dawn
across these acres glistening
like dew on a carpet lawn.
In these dark towns folk lie sleeping
as the Heavy Horses thunder by
to wake the dying city
with the living horseman's cry
At once the old hands quicken
bring pick and wisp and curry comb
thrill to the sound of all
the Heavy Horses coming home.



Weathercock

Good morning Weathercock: How did you fare last night
Did the cold wind bite you, did you face up to the fright
When the leaves spin from October and whip around your tail
Did you shake from the blast, did you shiver through the gale?

Give us direction; the best of goodwill
Put us in touch with fair winds.
Sing to us softly, hum evening's song
Tell us what the blacksmith has done for you.

Do you simply reflect changes in the patterns of the sky,
Or is it true to say the weather heeds the twinkle in your eye?
Do you fight the rush of winter; do you hold snowflakes at bay,
Do you life the dawn sun from the fields and help him on his way?

Good morning Weathercock: make this day bright.
Put us in touch with your fair winds.
Sing to us softly, hum evening's song
Point the way to better days we can share with you.




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