(The following effusion is by Nicholas Fowler, eighteenth century poet, scientist, philosopher, wit and owner of Coswold, a splendid and renowned estate, who was miraculously reincarnated in June 2013 for the sole purpose of writing it.)
The summons having woken me, I hied,
Caring no whit for time or even tide,
Toward the north, where Solway runs its course
Through Scotia's windy plains where lies its source,
Where Devil's Porridge boils, where fields are bleak
And Burns the ploughman makes his rough verse speak.
My spirits droop as further still I tread,
When suddenly, like Lazarus from his bed,
They rise, as Gretna's purlieus do me face.
For here a miracle I see, a blessed place,
A sanctuary, alive with tree and flower,
With many a bubbling stream and bosky bower,
Colourful, lush, abundant, leafy, ferny,
Another Hidcote, Sissinghurst, Giverny.
Nature and man together made this scene.
What beauty now? What barb'rousness has been?
But soft. Figures approach. What is their quest?
Do they mean harm or are they for the best?
A ministrant? Who to? What does she carry?
A book? A register of those who marry?
Are those her acolytes who shyly pace
And in the tiny belvedere take their place?
And why so quiet? Breathlessly they stand.
Surely some revelation is at hand.
Yes! Two I had not thought to see draw near
To start a journey set for many a year.
For sure, there's something rakish in their mien.
Have they eloped to here, to Gretna Green?
Their tryst is secret. Is it racked with guilt?
Are heirs disowned? Are families split, blood spilt?
Oh no. They glory in their escapade,
Proceeding joyfully once their choice was made.
The bride is beautiful in royal blue.
The birds are hushed in awe; the squirrels too
Pause in their business as she passes by.
"Did you not see my lady," is their cry,
"Go down the garden smiling?" As her swain,
Faithful and loving, free from every strain,
Beside her walks, engarbed in sober grey,
Savouring this moment, knowing it will stay,
The sea doth murmur and the very tide
On Solway's firth doth turn and softly glide
Towards the land to hear the rite, the vow
Confirming that, oh yes! they're married now.
The ceremony is short. The ministrant's soft,
Mellifluous voice sends loving thoughts aloft.
Hymen, the god, and Cupid, meddlesome boy,
Hasten to Earth to join in all this joy,
To make a fitting end to this great day
And wish all happiness to Dennis and Kay.
Sadly, the laws of supernatural physics forced Nicholas Fowler to return from whence he came at the very instant that he laid down his quill. He can be found within the pages of a novel penned by the groom, Spirit of the Place, ('intriguing, unusual, engrossing': 5-star review) first published in 1995, now available, revised and extended, on Kindle and, with luck, shortly as a printed edition. On that shameless plug, I will end.