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Robert Cole

From one Heplston man to another

Farmboy's been out a long time, swanning around,
thinks he's "Lord-love-us" Byron, signs hisself such,
scrawling his gibberish; love letters to that Martha
and Mary, both dead to him. They got his measure,
keeping house in a ditch, under a turn of earth
Eating grass for a promise is about his mark.

He fits with the other lunatics, but why they let
them wander; Lazarus-men, in their heads, unhinged doors,
doves from a cot; cuckoos more like, useless,
in and out like fiddler's elbows. I'd keep them
dosed, give them oakum to pick, honest work,
stop their hands weaving too close to the Devil.

He doesn't have a clue. Who is he half the time,
our John, our sainted poet! Head's away woolgathering
in heaven; or the other place, roaming meadows,
up to no good, I'll be bound. They turned his head;
been better off if they'd left him, simple like.
Teaching him his letters, was right daft!