The Armada Hedge (1588)
Grey Court, King's Sutton
This is the tallest hedge in England, planted
near the house to celebrate
the victory. It's this grey rain, wind-slanted,
that grew it green and straight:
The English clouds, like damp artillery,
are waging today the same campaign
that drove the hedge's green ascendancy—
raking the lawn with rain.
If I rest I rust, the sundial says:
in rain the hours disappear.
Sometimes—rarely—a watery sun displays
time as a shadow here.
The grass here is as green as Spain is dry;
the hedge, as green as blood would be
if blood were green. No evergreen can try
the grey hegemony
of fleeting time—the same prevailing rain
that routs both slow and nimble, with a breath
as cold as the Protestant Wind that harried Spain
and catholic as death.
(c) 2000; originally printed in
Reprinted by permission of the