Not in any guidebook ever published
Nor in trendy listings maps or files
Pictured, packaged, paragraphed
Will you find the treasures of these isles
Their names are half-forgotten
Their pleasures partly private
And their distance is in crows-flight
not in miles.
The City on a Sunday in December
Though walk in early morning if you go
Down Threadneedle Street
In sharpened sunlight
Upon the poorest powdering of snow
With petrol-headed pigeons
From shadows blue as bruises
On dirty vaults of London down below.
Or Dunwich in the galleon of the autumn
The last East Anglian port without a quay
Where ruined by the rapine of the ocean
A medieval city used to be
Its ancient lords and ladies
The boneflecks in the shingle
Its churchbell clappers tolling undersea.
All along the sheep-tracks over downland
The jingle-harnessed ghosts of pilgrim spring
Or from a train, the teatime lights of Swansea
Allotment sheds, a child on a swing.
A market under arches
The traders chapped and cheerful
Long in the red and long-past worrying.
A guidebook never gets the hidden Britain
The depthless tarns, the circles from the air
The crumbling brick-lined pit
Found in a farmyard
Its grating to restrain some long-dead bear.
The writers drugged or drowning
The rockstars crashed and burned
The country haunts itself.
Why should it care?