ANOTHER seasonal piece from the Scottish cleric-poet Andrew Young.

As ever, the naturalist in him views the country scene with the keenest of eyes while the poet offers his usual ingenious rhymes. The "reptilian growth" hanging in "decaying sloth" is a startling image. Young's Selected Poems are published by Carcanet at £9.95.

FEBRUARY

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So thick a mist darkened the day

Not two trees distant flew my friend, the jay,

To keep love's angry tryst

Somewhere in the damp mist,

And as I brushed each bush

Rain-buds fell in a rush,

One might have said it rained,

While green buds on the barer boughs remained.

But where with looped and twisted twine

Wild clematis, bryony and woodbine

And such reptilian growth

Hung in decaying sloth,

I stood still thinking how

Two months or three from now

The green buds would not tarry

More than those flashing drops of February.