How does Casterbridge appear from the air
on this coppery evening, the mayor having dined,
the clock sounding eight, emptying the square?
Stone of as many greys as tree bark
has browns, or like the fur of a hare,
grey and brown mixed. And as the bird arcs
higher, it sees how compact is this box
of chimneys, roofs, certain windows earmarked
to be rubied by the sun, church towers whose flocks
of pigeons grow sleepy. Acres of coomb,
cornland and down display the orthodox
gold and green of the season, but it’s the blooms
of the town’s back gardens which delight
the bee who uses them as his stockroom.
Like a merchant with the feel of samite
lingering on finger and thumb, the satisfied
bee sashays through a town as much his birthright
as the surrounding meads, so countrified
is Casterbridge. But to choose between the bird
and the bee, wait for Allhallowtide
and the southerly storms which leave the air furred
like the velvet of a rose – refined –
and which the dozing bee misses, while the bird
treats the sky like a page it has signed.