21 SEPTEMBER 1991, Page 41

Experience near Porlock

A cry, a crash, and a vengeful shout From the street below; and I have written: The mountains had to start somewhere, so why not Immediately rising out of flat fields Where the sheep need no stamina for grazing?

I saw them do this from the train on Thursday; And the next afternoon I saw from a window The train I travelled on the day before As it wormed across my picture without me, A pleasantly far-off giant insect. I watched it, it used up no stamina When I grazed on it, so I slipped myself back Inside it, and dreamed I still travelled as I lay On the grass of a foothill under the mountains The day after that, the day which was yesterday. I could see the train from there as well, see the window From which I saw the train, and from that third place The two were in a calmly vanishing past I was dying to hold onto. — But then came the present, With an evening too dark to see very much at all, Only dream about it in the vanishing Room behind the window; and only write A drunk has finished the dreams in his bottle And smashed it to bits on the pavement.

Alan Brownjohn