“The Slow-Worm of Lenty curses God”

A poem from Wolf Solent, a novel by John Cowper Powys:

The Slow- Worm of Lenty curses God;
He lifts his head from the heavy sod;
He lifts his head where the Lenty willow
Weeps green tears o’er the rain-elf’s pillow;
For the rain-elf’s lover is fled and gone,
And none curseth God but the Slow- Worm alone.
For the newts and the tadpoles at their play
Laugh at the rain-elf’s tear -wet pillow;
Laugh that her lover has fled away.
Little care they for elf or willow.
They flash their tails to a mocking cry
“Slow- Worm of Lenty, prophesy!”
But never again can God look down
As He did of old upon country and town!
In His huge heart, hidden all Space beyond,
There bides the curse of Lenty Pond;
The curse of the Slow- Worm, by Lenty willow,
Who pitied the elf on her tear-wet pillow,
Her pillow woven of pond-weeds green
Where the willow’s twigs made a leafy screen;
And the purple loosestrife and watercress
Whisper above her sorrowfulness.
And the Lenty Slow- Worm curses God
For the sake of the rain-elf’s pitifulness.
He lifts his head from the watercress,
He lifts his head from the quaker-grass,
From the hoof-marks where the cattle pass,
He lifts his head from the heavy sod,
And under the loosestrife he curses God!
And the newts and the tadpoles who where she lay
Mocked her from bellies white, orange, and grey,
Cry now to willow and water and weed,
“Lenty Pond has a prophet indeed!”
For the rain-elf weeps no more to her pillow
Woven of twigs of the weeping-willow;
But her lover, come back to the laughing rain-elf,
Cries, “The Slow- Worm of Lenty is God Himself!”


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