The Circle of Affection and Other Pieces in Prose and Verse

by Duncan Campbell Scott


 

OLD OLIVES AT BORDIGHERA


 

HERE ON THE VALLEY-SLOPE is the olive grove,
The trees are gnarled and distorted;
They stand neglected and forgotten,
Ruins of ancient labour;
After bearing through years uncounted
5
The innumerable olive,
The grove is barren.

Never will the lads beat the trees
To bring down the high, reluctant fruit;
Never will the old crones, crouching here.

10
Search the grass
For the bronze ovals of the late-fallen;
Or the labourer carry the final sack
To the oil press.

Only the idle visit here;

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Or at times the shepherd,
In his weathered-saffron cloak,
Drifts here with his sheep.
They come flowing
With heads drooped to the scant herbage,
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Cropping with a whispering sound
As if conferring with bent heads;
Flooding in full tide over the parched grass,
They ebb away past the boles of the olives
And draw the shepherd with them.
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No fruit from the olives!
But the loiterer idles here
And gathers an immaterial aftermath.
For beauty abides in the olive grove,
In fathomless peace the beauty of quietude:—

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The dust-green silver of the leaves,
The silver subdued of the tree-stems,
The branch-screen that draws gold from sunlight
And casts a residue of silver shadow.
Afar from hidden Vallecrosia
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Comes the vibration of a silver bell,
And from Vallebona runs a parallel of bell-silver
To join the silver community of the olives;
Under the serene element on the high mountain
Shines dim snow-silver;
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Below, and beyond the province of the grove,
Trembles a vision of ocean,
Flawed with silver by the west wind.