Oh, English lanes are lovely, and English lanes are long,
All greened around with hedgerow, and garlanded with song,
And pied with painted wildflowers that draw the honey bee
As surely as those winding roads are calling now to me.
“Come back again”, they whisper, in rustling, leafy tones –
And see the sun-striped shadows, the old walls made of stones
That cut the fields in pieces in a jigsaw’s fretted style,
Yet fit the landscape perfectly, for mile on criss-cross mile.
Some English lanes are narrow, some English lanes are deep,
And some are gently rolling, and some have trysts to keep
With ancient tracks and walk-ways, and megalithic tombs,
Or stones that stand in circles, like houses with no rooms.
And some lead on to villages, asleep in history’s well,
Preserved, time-stilled, enchanting, they cast a life-long spell,
With cottages as mellow as the churches crouched nearby,
With roses, chimneys, steeples, all reaching for the sky.
For English lanes look upwards, and English lanes look down,
They climb to tree-clad hilltops and they skirt the valley town,
they dally by ripe cornfields with poppies red as blood
And pause by fields of buttercups in green and golden flood.
To Wordsworth’s lakes they’ll take you, and charm you through the Dales,
Entice you through the Cotswolds, the forests and the vales.
They will dance you down to Devon, then to Cornwall’s coves and creeks,
You could follow them for ever, for their magic ever seeks
To lure you over England, and you’ll find those tales are true,
Of badger setts and moles in holes, and foxes in fields of dew.
Literature will come alive in castle, inn or hall,
Princes, smugglers, nobodies – these lanes have seen them all.
For English lanes breathe history that beguiles you from the start,
And quietly, seductively, they steal your very heart.
For English lanes are lovely and English lanes enthrall;
Oh! I must return to England – for they call, they call, they call!