Arranging John's Marriage

Dear husband,
my greetings to you
&c. Blessed be God,
this evening of spring
the Reedham lady
came to our home.
She is for our son
and he for her.

This first time, this
first time her charm
and woman’s grace
were warm for him.
‘How like your good
father you are’,
she said, ‘how much
his son’. We do not
need to press. Dear
husband, you knew
it would be so.

Stockn’s vicar said
that if you furnish it,
then her mother will
proffer a fine fur. So
cloth must be had.
I suggest a blue, the
colour of God’s sky,
or a beautiful true red.

And I need gold thread,
two reels if you can.

I write in haste from
Paston with no good
scribe to hand, the
Wednesday after
Deus qui errantibis -
nearly four weeks
after Easter! Spring
is here, and our first
son is soon to wed.

It is God’s will, William,
and it is yours and
it is meant.

 

Village Matters

St Edmund’s Day was yesterday
and after evensong just Sunday last
Agnes Ball came over to our pew
and with her, Clement Spicer.

No time for ‘how do you dos’
before Clement asked about my
wall which, he said, was blocking
the King’s way, to which I said

there was no way but mine and,
by the way, he had sold my land
to John Ball, to which he said it was
not my land – no agreement made

with your father, not at all – and
meanwhile Warren Harman lolls
against the pew’s partition, on his
usual mission to cause me trouble

and says my wall’s an ill-judged one,
the village is undone, it’s lost about
a hundred pounds of revenue, and
on and on the slander of his voice


right next to me, even as I left church,
talk of costs, of the wall’s destruction
(at which I turned my head and said
whoever made the choice to make it

rubble would have to pay in whole for
reconstruction but he said I would pay)
then he went on about his Walsham hay,
I said my hay, it is my hay, my hay, then

he suddenly went off and I was in the
graveyard on my own. The winter night
sat upon the stones. Why did he leave
me where the poor go when they die?