I always kinda liked Stephen Spender. I really like this Modernist poem. It is like a short film which the poet simply runs in the reader’s head. I like how the camera of Time zooms back through the Croquet Hoops to the head of the mallet and all is triggered by the distinctive smell of a brand of soap. I’m sure we’ve all been transported back in time by such a thing. Though I am sure not all of us can recall childhoods playing croquet on the lawns of country houses…
This brand of soap has the same smell as once in the big
House he visited when he was eight: the walls of the bathroom open
To reveal a lawn where a great yellow ball rolls back through a hoop
To rest at the head of a mallet held in the hands of a child.
And these were the joys of that house: a tower with a telescope;
Two great faded globes, one of the earth, one of the stars;
A stuffed black dog in the hall; a walled garden with bees;
A rabbit warren; a rockery; a vine under glass; the sea.
To which he has now returned. The day of course is fine
And a grown-up voice cries Play! The mallet slowly swings,
Then crack, a great gong booms from the dog-dark hall and the ball
Skims forward through the hoop and then through the next and then
Through hoops where no hoops were and each dissolves in turn
And the grass has grown head-high and an angry voice cries Play!
But the ball is lost and the mallet slipped long since from the hands
Under the running tap that are not the hands of a child.