Marshes by the North Sea

After false summer, the low lights of fall

Fade in the water-meadows,

And a slack wind soughs through the broken sea-wall

Where the samphire grows.


Now the slow tinkling of cow-bells allows

Thoughts of the past to rally

Kings from lost battles, as though silted barrows

Were not realms of the Norse bee.


By the windmill and the shivering willow tree,

Over the yellow osier,

Seamews in circles move, and, beyond, the tall three

Towers divide the air.


Along the green ditches pale herons stare,

Reflections that shimmer, then break,

As they plunge for their food, while gun-ports in ruin share

The dusk with a grey drake.


But to all this the gleanings that take

Place in the heart only

Render some meaning, as the drift fires of cane-brake

Burn by the sea.