Simon Armitage’s poem on the funeral of Prince Phillip and his generation.

The Patriarchs – An Elegy

The weather in the window this morning
is snow, unseasonal singular flakes,
a slow winter’s final shiver. On such an occasion
to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up
for a whole generation – that crew whose survival
was always the stuff of minor miracle,
who came ashore in orange-crate coracles,
fought ingenious wars, finagled triumphs at sea
with flaming decoy boats, and side-stepped torpedoes.

Husbands to duty, they unrolled their plans
across billiard tables and vehicle bonnets,
regrouped at breakfast. What their secrets were
was everyone’s guess and nobody’s business.
Great-grandfathers from birth, in time they became
both inner core and outer case
in a family heirloom of nesting dolls.
Like evidence of early man their boot-prints stand
in the hardened earth of rose-beds and borders.

They were sons of a zodiac out of sync
with the solar year, but turned their minds
to the day’s big science and heavy questions.
To study their hands at rest was to picture maps
showing hachured valleys and indigo streams, schemes
of old campaigns and reconnaissance missions.
Last of the great avuncular magicians
they kept their best tricks for the grand finale:
Disproving Immortality and Disappearing Entirely.

The major oaks in the wood start tuning up
and skies to come will deliver their tributes.
But for now, a cold April’s closing moments
parachute slowly home, so by mid-afternoon
snow is recast as seed heads and thistledown.

February (thinking of Wilfred Owen’s “Exposure”)

Thick white muffling snow outside, a hotel duvet of down and cotton.

Inside the house is loud with quiet.

The stove ticks, the metal expands and contracts as logs burn hot and then down splutter down into jewel crusted ash.

The cuckoo clock ticks, comfortable and confident in time passing that will be undisturbed even by the Amazon van lost in drifting uncleared roads.

The cat wheezes and turns over again in his sleep .

But nothing happens.

Squeaky Snow and Frozen Flags

Today was wonderfully cold. Minus 10 overnight and utterly clear and bright during the day. The snow is squeaky and every blade of grass poking above brandishes a tiny banner of ice.

Our footprints carve their mark on the fresh fall and all around us are the patterns of creatures that were out before us. Most of the marks are rabbits, who I now realise feed much further from their burrow than I appreciated; deep neat marks are deer ; round footprints are cats and light prints are martins. Some longer prints maybe hare and small dog like prints maybe fox. Out in the open three grassy circles with smooth snow edges would seem to be the spots were deer lay down as the snow fell heavily, though why they stayed out in the fields, when the shelter of the forest was so close, I do not know . Under apple trees a mole hill is brown and fresh above the snow although the soil  is already frozen hard. Coin sized round holes in the snow indicate where voles had emerged at some point from their runs under the white blanket which now keeps them safe and sheltered from the hungry buzzards wheeling above in a cold blue sky.