To John Berry Hobbs on his seventieth birthday
There falls across this one December day
The light remembered from those suns of June
That you reflected in the summer play
Of perfect strokes across the afternoon.
No yeoman ever walked his household land
More sure of step, or more secure of lease,
Than you, accustomed and unhurried,
trod Your small yet mighty manor of the crease.
The game the Wealden rustics handed down
Through growing skill, became,
in you, a part Of sense; and ripened to a style that showed
Their country sport matured to balanced art.
There was a wisdom so informed your bat
To understanding of the bowler's trade
That each resource of strength or skill he used
Seemed but the context of the stroke you played.
The Master: records prove the title good:
Yet figures fail you, for they cannot say
How many men whose names you never knew
Are proud to tell their sons they saw you play
They share the sunlight of your summer day
Of thirty years; and they, with you, recall
How, through those well-wrought centuries, your hand
Reshaped the history of bat and ball.