The Circle of Affection and Other Pieces in Prose and Verse

by Duncan Campbell Scott




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
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.

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;

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,
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.

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:—

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
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;
Below, and beyond the province of the grove,
Trembles a vision of ocean,
Flawed with silver by the west wind.