Recently occasioned by a nostalgic aroma.
Did I by chance the other night
In a dark Somerset lane,
*Feel the tang of a half-forgotten scent
In my nostrils once again?
Not the perfume of flowers or hay,
Or the damp fragrance of soil,
But the sharper, more penetrant odour
Of a once-familiar oil.
And I suddenly thought of Norton bikes
With strange high diamond frames;
And turbulent, crackling cyclecars
With forgotten, once-famous, names —
Visions of spectral, spidery things —
(Shades of Godfrey Nash!)
They passed before the eye of my mind
In the space of a lightning-flash!
And Horstmanns, and “45” Renaults:
Three-Litres with no front brakes:
Cars of all shapes and sizes,
Dozens of different makes —
They came to me out of limitless space
And regions of time afar,
Evoked by the friendly genie that dwells
In a tin of Castrol “R.”
. . . The fleeting whiff of an instant brief —
But it struck my soul at the roots:
A hundred times more eloquent
Than your reek of polish for boots!
And I saw a Track, as a captive sees
The hills through prison bars —
The paddock. . . Barclay’s Vauxhall . .
The Viper . . . three Darracq cars . . .
And through my ageing arteries surged
The tide of youth once more —
I thought that I was back again
In Nineteen Twenty-four.
W. A. T.
(*If you don’t think this line scans, try putting the accent on “tang”!)