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Spry, wry, and gray as these March sticks,
Percy bows, in his blue peajacket, among the narcissi.
He is recuperating from something on the lung.

The narcissi, too, are bowing to some big thing :
It rattles their stars on the green hill where Percy
Nurses the hardship of his stitches, and walks and walks.

There is a dignity to this; there is a formality --
The flowers vivid as bandages, and the man mending.
They bow and stand : they suffer such attacks!

And the octogenarian loves the little flocks.
He is quite blue; the terrible wind tries his breathing.
The narcissi look up like children, quickly and whitely.
A Poem for Three Voices

Setting:  A Maternity Ward and round about

FIRST VOICE:
I am slow as the world.  I am very patient,
Turning through my time, the suns and stars
Regarding me with attention.
The moon's concern is more personal:
She passes and repasses, luminous as a nurse.
Is she sorry for what will happen?  I do not think so.
She is simply astonished at fertility.

When I walk out, I am a great event.
I do not have to think, or even rehearse.
What happens in me will happen without attention.
The pheasant stands on the hill;
He is arranging his brown feathers.
I cannot help smiling at what it is I know.
Leaves and petals attend me.  I am ready.

SECOND VOICE:
When I first saw it, the small red seep, I did not believe it.
I watched the men walk about me in the office.  They were so flat!
There was something about them like cardboard, and now I had caught it,
That flat, flat, flatness from which ideas, destructions,
Bulldozers, guillotines, white chambers of shrieks proceed,
Endlessly proceed--and the cold angels, the abstractions.
I sat at my desk in my stockings, my high heels,

And the man I work for laughed:  'Have you seen something awful?
You are so white, suddenly.'  And I said nothing.
I saw death in the bare trees, a deprivation.
I could not believe it.  Is it so difficult
For the spirit to conceive a face, a mouth?
The letters proceed from these black keys, and these black keys proceed
From my alphabetical fingers, ordering parts,

Parts, bits, cogs, the shining multiples.
I am dying as I sit.  I lose a dimension.
Trains roar in my ears, departures, departures!
The silver track of time empties into the distance,
The white sky empties of its promise, like a cup.
These are my feet, these mechanical echoes.
Tap, tap, tap, steel pegs.  I am found wanting.

This is a disease I carry home, this is a death.
Again, this is a death.  Is it the air,
The particles of destruction I **** up?  Am I a pulse
That wanes and wanes, facing the cold angel?
Is this my lover then?  This death, this death?
As a child I loved a lichen-bitten name.
Is this the one sin then, this old dead love of death?

THIRD VOICE:
I remember the minute when I knew for sure.
The willows were chilling,
The face in the pool was beautiful, but not mine--
It had a consequential look, like everything else,
And all I could see was dangers:  doves and words,
Stars and showers of gold--conceptions, conceptions!
I remember a white, cold wing

And the great swan, with its terrible look,
Coming at me, like a castle, from the top of the river.
There is a snake in swans.
He glided by; his eye had a black meaning.
I saw the world in it--small, mean and black,
Every little word hooked to every little word, and act to act.
A hot blue day had budded into something.

I wasn't ready.  The white clouds rearing
Aside were dragging me in four directions.
I wasn't ready.
I had no reverence.
I thought I could deny the consequence--
But it was too late for that.  It was too late, and the face
Went on shaping itself with love, as if I was ready.

SECOND VOICE:
It is a world of snow now.  I am not at home.
How white these sheets are.  The faces have no features.
They are bald and impossible, like the faces of my children,
Those little sick ones that elude my arms.
Other children do not touch me:  they are terrible.
They have too many colors, too much life.  They are not quiet,
Quiet, like the little emptinesses I carry.

I have had my chances.  I have tried and tried.
I have stitched life into me like a rare *****,
And walked carefully, precariously, like something rare.
I have tried not to think too hard.  I have tried to be natural.
I have tried to be blind in love, like other women,
Blind in my bed, with my dear blind sweet one,
Not looking, through the thick dark, for the face of another.

I did not look.  But still the face was there,
The face of the unborn one that loved its perfections,
The face of the dead one that could only be perfect
In its easy peace, could only keep holy so.
And then there were other faces.  The faces of nations,
Governments, parliaments, societies,
The faceless faces of important men.

It is these men I mind:
They are so jealous of anything that is not flat!  They are jealous gods
That would have the whole world flat because they are.
I see the Father conversing with the Son.
Such flatness cannot but be holy.
'Let us make a heaven,' they say.
'Let us flatten and launder the grossness from these souls.'

FIRST VOICE:
I am calm.  I am calm.  It is the calm before something awful:
The yellow minute before the wind walks, when the leaves
Turn up their hands, their pallors.  It is so quiet here.
The sheets, the faces, are white and stopped, like clocks.
Voices stand back and flatten.  Their visible hieroglyphs
Flatten to parchment screens to keep the wind off.
They paint such secrets in Arabic, Chinese!

I am dumb and brown.  I am a seed about to break.
The brownness is my dead self, and it is sullen:
It does not wish to be more, or different.
Dusk hoods me in blue now, like a Mary.
O color of distance and forgetfulness!--
When will it be, the second when Time breaks
And eternity engulfs it, and I drown utterly?

I talk to myself, myself only, set apart--
Swabbed and lurid with disinfectants, sacrificial.
Waiting lies heavy on my lids.  It lies like sleep,
Like a big sea.  Far off, far off, I feel the first wave tug
Its cargo of agony toward me, inescapable, tidal.
And I, a shell, echoing on this white beach
Face the voices that overwhelm, the terrible element.

THIRD VOICE:
I am a mountain now, among mountainy women.
The doctors move among us as if our bigness
Frightened the mind.  They smile like fools.
They are to blame for what I am, and they know it.
They hug their flatness like a kind of health.
And what if they found themselves surprised, as I did?
They would go mad with it.

And what if two lives leaked between my thighs?
I have seen the white clean chamber with its instruments.
It is a place of shrieks.  It is not happy.
'This is where you will come when you are ready.'
The night lights are flat red moons.  They are dull with blood.
I am not ready for anything to happen.
I should have murdered this, that murders me.

FIRST VOICE:
There is no miracle more cruel than this.
I am dragged by the horses, the iron hooves.
I last.  I last it out.  I accomplish a work.
Dark tunnel, through which hurtle the visitations,
The visitations, the manifestations, the startled faces.
I am the center of an atrocity.
What pains, what sorrows must I be mothering?

Can such innocence **** and ****?  It milks my life.
The trees wither in the street.  The rain is corrosive.
I taste it on my tongue, and the workable horrors,
The horrors that stand and idle, the slighted godmothers
With their hearts that tick and tick, with their satchels of instruments.
I shall be a wall and a roof, protecting.
I shall be a sky and a hill of good:  O let me be!

A power is growing on me, an old tenacity.
I am breaking apart like the world.  There is this blackness,
This ram of blackness.  I fold my hands on a mountain.
The air is thick.  It is thick with this working.
I am used.  I am drummed into use.
My eyes are squeezed by this blackness.
I see nothing.

SECOND VOICE:
I am accused.  I dream of massacres.
I am a garden of black and red agonies.  I drink them,
Hating myself, hating and fearing.  And now the world conceives
Its end and runs toward it, arms held out in love.
It is a love of death that sickens everything.
A dead sun stains the newsprint.  It is red.
I lose life after life.  The dark earth drinks them.

She is the vampire of us all.  So she supports us,
Fattens us, is kind.  Her mouth is red.
I know her.  I know her intimately--
Old winter-face, old barren one, old time bomb.
Men have used her meanly.  She will eat them.
Eat them, eat them, eat them in the end.
The sun is down.  I die.  I make a death.

FIRST VOICE:
Who is he, this blue, furious boy,
Shiny and strange, as if he had hurtled from a star?
He is looking so angrily!
He flew into the room, a shriek at his heel.
The blue color pales.  He is human after all.
A red lotus opens in its bowl of blood;
They are stitching me up with silk, as if I were a material.

What did my fingers do before they held him?
What did my heart do, with its love?
I have never seen a thing so clear.
His lids are like the lilac-flower
And soft as a moth, his breath.
I shall not let go.
There is no guile or warp in him.  May he keep so.

SECOND VOICE:
There is the moon in the high window.  It is over.
How winter fills my soul!  And that chalk light
Laying its scales on the windows, the windows of empty offices,
Empty schoolrooms, empty churches.  O so much emptiness!
There is this cessation.  This terrible cessation of everything.
These bodies mounded around me now, these polar sleepers--
What blue, moony ray ices their dreams?

I feel it enter me, cold, alien, like an instrument.
And that mad, hard face at the end of it, that O-mouth
Open in its gape of perpetual grieving.
It is she that drags the blood-black sea around
Month after month, with its voices of failure.
I am helpless as the sea at the end of her string.
I am restless.  Restless and useless.  I, too, create corpses.

I shall move north.  I shall move into a long blackness.
I see myself as a shadow, neither man nor woman,
Neither a woman, happy to be like a man, nor a man
Blunt and flat enough to feel no lack.  I feel a lack.
I hold my fingers up, ten white pickets.
See, the darkness is leaking from the cracks.
I cannot contain it.  I cannot contain my life.

I shall be a heroine of the peripheral.
I shall not be accused by isolate buttons,
Holes in the heels of socks, the white mute faces
Of unanswered letters, coffined in a letter case.
I shall not be accused, I shall not be accused.
The clock shall not find me wanting, nor these stars
That rivet in place abyss after abyss.

THIRD VOICE:
I see her in my sleep, my red, terrible girl.
She is crying through the glass that separates us.
She is crying, and she is furious.
Her cries are hooks that catch and grate like cats.
It is by these hooks she climbs to my notice.
She is crying at the dark, or at the stars
That at such a distance from us shine and whirl.

I think her little head is carved in wood,
A red, hard wood, eyes shut and mouth wide open.
And from the open mouth issue sharp cries
Scratching at my sleep like arrows,
Scratching at my sleep, and entering my side.
My daughter has no teeth.  Her mouth is wide.
It utters such dark sounds it cannot be good.

FIRST VOICE:
What is it that flings these innocent souls at us?
Look, they are so exhausted, they are all flat out
In their canvas-sided cots, names tied to their wrists,
The little silver trophies they've come so far for.
There are some with thick black hair, there are some bald.
Their skin tints are pink or sallow, brown or red;
They are beginning to remember their differences.

I think they are made of water; they have no expression.
Their features are sleeping, like light on quiet water.
They are the real monks and nuns in their identical garments.
I see them showering like stars on to the world--
On India, Africa, America, these miraculous ones,
These pure, small images.  They smell of milk.
Their footsoles are untouched.  They are walkers of air.

Can nothingness be so prodigal?
Here is my son.
His wide eye is that general, flat blue.
He is turning to me like a little, blind, bright plant.
One cry.  It is the hook I hang on.
And I am a river of milk.
I am a warm hill.

SECOND VOICE:
I am not ugly.  I am even beautiful.
The mirror gives back a woman without deformity.
The nurses give back my clothes, and an identity.
It is usual, they say, for such a thing to happen.
It is usual in my life, and the lives of others.
I am one in five, something like that.  I am not hopeless.
I am beautiful as a statistic.  Here is my lipstick.

I draw on the old mouth.
The red mouth I put by with my identity
A day ago, two days, three days ago.  It was a Friday.
I do not even need a holiday; I can go to work today.
I can love my husband, who will understand.
Who will love me through the blur of my deformity
As if I had lost an eye, a leg, a tongue.

And so I stand, a little sightless.  So I walk
Away on wheels, instead of legs, they serve as well.
And learn to speak with fingers, not a tongue.
The body is resourceful.
The body of a starfish can grow back its arms
And newts are prodigal in legs.  And may I be
As prodigal in what lacks me.

THIRD VOICE:
She is a small island, asleep and peaceful,
And I am a white ship hooting:  Goodbye, goodbye.
The day is blazing.  It is very mournful.
The flowers in this room are red and tropical.
They have lived behind glass all their lives, they have been cared for
        tenderly.
Now they face a winter of white sheets, white faces.
There is very little to go into my suitcase.

There are the clothes of a fat woman I do not know.
There is my comb and brush.  There is an emptiness.
I am so vulnerable suddenly.
I am a wound walking out of hospital.
I am a wound that they are letting go.
I leave my health behind.  I leave someone
Who would adhere to me:  I undo her fingers like bandages:  I go.

SECOND VOICE:
I am myself again.  There are no loose ends.
I am bled white as wax, I have no attachments.
I am flat and virginal, which means nothing has happened,
Nothing that cannot be erased, ripped up and scrapped, begun again.
There little black twigs do not think to bud,
Nor do these dry, dry gutters dream of rain.
This woman who meets me in windows--she is neat.

So neat she is transparent, like a spirit.
how shyly she superimposes her neat self
On the inferno of African oranges, the heel-hung pigs.
She is deferring to reality.
It is I.  It is I--
Tasting the bitterness between my teeth.
The incalculable malice of the everyday.

FIRST VOICE:
How long can I be a wall, keeping the wind off?
How long can I be
Gentling the sun with the shade of my hand,
Intercepting the blue bolts of a cold moon?
The voices of loneliness, the voices of sorrow
Lap at my back ineluctably.
How shall it soften them, this little lullaby?

How long can I be a wall around my green property?
How long can my hands
Be a bandage to his hurt, and my words
Bright birds in the sky, consoling, consoling?
It is a terrible thing
To be so open:  it is as if my heart
Put on a face and walked into the world.

THIRD VOICE:
Today the colleges are drunk with spring.
My black gown is a little funeral:
It shows I am serious.
The books I carry wedge into my side.
I had an old wound once, but it is healing.
I had a dream of an island, red with cries.
It was a dream, and did not mean a thing.

FIRST VOICE:
Dawn flowers in the great elm outside the house.
The swifts are back.  They are shrieking like paper rockets.
I hear the sound of the hours
Widen and die in the hedgerows.  I hear the moo of cows.
The colors replenish themselves, and the wet
Thatch smokes in the sun.
The narcissi open white faces in the orchard.

I am reassured.  I am reassured.
These are the clear bright colors of the nursery,
The talking ducks, the happy lambs.
I am simple again.  I believe in miracles.
I do not believe in those terrible children
Who injure my sleep with their white eyes, their fingerless hands.
They are not mine.  They do not belong to me.

I shall meditate upon normality.
I shall meditate upon my little son.
He does not walk. &n
Oscar Wilde  Jul 2009
Ravenna
Newdigate prize poem recited in the Sheldonian Theatre
Oxford June 26th, 1878.

To my friend George Fleming author of ‘The Nile Novel’
and ‘Mirage’

I.

A year ago I breathed the Italian air,—
And yet, methinks this northern Spring is fair,—
These fields made golden with the flower of March,
The throstle singing on the feathered larch,
The cawing rooks, the wood-doves fluttering by,
The little clouds that race across the sky;
And fair the violet’s gentle drooping head,
The primrose, pale for love uncomforted,
The rose that burgeons on the climbing briar,
The crocus-bed, (that seems a moon of fire
Round-girdled with a purple marriage-ring);
And all the flowers of our English Spring,
Fond snowdrops, and the bright-starred daffodil.
Up starts the lark beside the murmuring mill,
And breaks the gossamer-threads of early dew;
And down the river, like a flame of blue,
Keen as an arrow flies the water-king,
While the brown linnets in the greenwood sing.
A year ago!—it seems a little time
Since last I saw that lordly southern clime,
Where flower and fruit to purple radiance blow,
And like bright lamps the fabled apples glow.
Full Spring it was—and by rich flowering vines,
Dark olive-groves and noble forest-pines,
I rode at will; the moist glad air was sweet,
The white road rang beneath my horse’s feet,
And musing on Ravenna’s ancient name,
I watched the day till, marked with wounds of flame,
The turquoise sky to burnished gold was turned.

O how my heart with boyish passion burned,
When far away across the sedge and mere
I saw that Holy City rising clear,
Crowned with her crown of towers!—On and on
I galloped, racing with the setting sun,
And ere the crimson after-glow was passed,
I stood within Ravenna’s walls at last!

II.

How strangely still! no sound of life or joy
Startles the air; no laughing shepherd-boy
Pipes on his reed, nor ever through the day
Comes the glad sound of children at their play:
O sad, and sweet, and silent! surely here
A man might dwell apart from troublous fear,
Watching the tide of seasons as they flow
From amorous Spring to Winter’s rain and snow,
And have no thought of sorrow;—here, indeed,
Are Lethe’s waters, and that fatal ****
Which makes a man forget his fatherland.

Ay! amid lotus-meadows dost thou stand,
Like Proserpine, with poppy-laden head,
Guarding the holy ashes of the dead.
For though thy brood of warrior sons hath ceased,
Thy noble dead are with thee!—they at least
Are faithful to thine honour:—guard them well,
O childless city! for a mighty spell,
To wake men’s hearts to dreams of things sublime,
Are the lone tombs where rest the Great of Time.

III.


Yon lonely pillar, rising on the plain,
Marks where the bravest knight of France was slain,—
The Prince of chivalry, the Lord of war,
Gaston de Foix:  for some untimely star
Led him against thy city, and he fell,
As falls some forest-lion fighting well.
Taken from life while life and love were new,
He lies beneath God’s seamless veil of blue;
Tall lance-like reeds wave sadly o’er his head,
And oleanders bloom to deeper red,
Where his bright youth flowed crimson on the ground.

Look farther north unto that broken mound,—
There, prisoned now within a lordly tomb
Raised by a daughter’s hand, in lonely gloom,
Huge-limbed Theodoric, the Gothic king,
Sleeps after all his weary conquering.
Time hath not spared his ruin,—wind and rain
Have broken down his stronghold; and again
We see that Death is mighty lord of all,
And king and clown to ashen dust must fall

Mighty indeed their glory! yet to me
Barbaric king, or knight of chivalry,
Or the great queen herself, were poor and vain,
Beside the grave where Dante rests from pain.
His gilded shrine lies open to the air;
And cunning sculptor’s hands have carven there
The calm white brow, as calm as earliest morn,
The eyes that flashed with passionate love and scorn,
The lips that sang of Heaven and of Hell,
The almond-face which Giotto drew so well,
The weary face of Dante;—to this day,
Here in his place of resting, far away
From Arno’s yellow waters, rushing down
Through the wide bridges of that fairy town,
Where the tall tower of Giotto seems to rise
A marble lily under sapphire skies!

Alas! my Dante! thou hast known the pain
Of meaner lives,—the exile’s galling chain,
How steep the stairs within kings’ houses are,
And all the petty miseries which mar
Man’s nobler nature with the sense of wrong.
Yet this dull world is grateful for thy song;
Our nations do thee homage,—even she,
That cruel queen of vine-clad Tuscany,
Who bound with crown of thorns thy living brow,
Hath decked thine empty tomb with laurels now,
And begs in vain the ashes of her son.

O mightiest exile! all thy grief is done:
Thy soul walks now beside thy Beatrice;
Ravenna guards thine ashes:  sleep in peace.

IV.

How lone this palace is; how grey the walls!
No minstrel now wakes echoes in these halls.
The broken chain lies rusting on the door,
And noisome weeds have split the marble floor:
Here lurks the snake, and here the lizards run
By the stone lions blinking in the sun.
Byron dwelt here in love and revelry
For two long years—a second Anthony,
Who of the world another Actium made!
Yet suffered not his royal soul to fade,
Or lyre to break, or lance to grow less keen,
’Neath any wiles of an Egyptian queen.
For from the East there came a mighty cry,
And Greece stood up to fight for Liberty,
And called him from Ravenna:  never knight
Rode forth more nobly to wild scenes of fight!
None fell more bravely on ensanguined field,
Borne like a Spartan back upon his shield!
O Hellas!  Hellas! in thine hour of pride,
Thy day of might, remember him who died
To wrest from off thy limbs the trammelling chain:
O Salamis!  O lone Plataean plain!
O tossing waves of wild Euboean sea!
O wind-swept heights of lone Thermopylae!
He loved you well—ay, not alone in word,
Who freely gave to thee his lyre and sword,
Like AEschylos at well-fought Marathon:

And England, too, shall glory in her son,
Her warrior-poet, first in song and fight.
No longer now shall Slander’s venomed spite
Crawl like a snake across his perfect name,
Or mar the lordly scutcheon of his fame.

For as the olive-garland of the race,
Which lights with joy each eager runner’s face,
As the red cross which saveth men in war,
As a flame-bearded beacon seen from far
By mariners upon a storm-tossed sea,—
Such was his love for Greece and Liberty!

Byron, thy crowns are ever fresh and green:
Red leaves of rose from Sapphic Mitylene
Shall bind thy brows; the myrtle blooms for thee,
In hidden glades by lonely Castaly;
The laurels wait thy coming:  all are thine,
And round thy head one perfect wreath will twine.

V.

The pine-tops rocked before the evening breeze
With the hoarse murmur of the wintry seas,
And the tall stems were streaked with amber bright;—
I wandered through the wood in wild delight,
Some startled bird, with fluttering wings and fleet,
Made snow of all the blossoms; at my feet,
Like silver crowns, the pale narcissi lay,
And small birds sang on every twining spray.
O waving trees, O forest liberty!
Within your haunts at least a man is free,
And half forgets the weary world of strife:
The blood flows hotter, and a sense of life
Wakes i’ the quickening veins, while once again
The woods are filled with gods we fancied slain.
Long time I watched, and surely hoped to see
Some goat-foot Pan make merry minstrelsy
Amid the reeds! some startled Dryad-maid
In girlish flight! or lurking in the glade,
The soft brown limbs, the wanton treacherous face
Of woodland god! Queen Dian in the chase,
White-limbed and terrible, with look of pride,
And leash of boar-hounds leaping at her side!
Or Hylas mirrored in the perfect stream.

O idle heart!  O fond Hellenic dream!
Ere long, with melancholy rise and swell,
The evening chimes, the convent’s vesper bell,
Struck on mine ears amid the amorous flowers.
Alas! alas! these sweet and honied hours
Had whelmed my heart like some encroaching sea,
And drowned all thoughts of black Gethsemane.

VI.

O lone Ravenna! many a tale is told
Of thy great glories in the days of old:
Two thousand years have passed since thou didst see
Caesar ride forth to royal victory.
Mighty thy name when Rome’s lean eagles flew
From Britain’s isles to far Euphrates blue;
And of the peoples thou wast noble queen,
Till in thy streets the Goth and *** were seen.
Discrowned by man, deserted by the sea,
Thou sleepest, rocked in lonely misery!
No longer now upon thy swelling tide,
Pine-forest-like, thy myriad galleys ride!
For where the brass-beaked ships were wont to float,
The weary shepherd pipes his mournful note;
And the white sheep are free to come and go
Where Adria’s purple waters used to flow.

O fair!  O sad!  O Queen uncomforted!
In ruined loveliness thou liest dead,
Alone of all thy sisters; for at last
Italia’s royal warrior hath passed
Rome’s lordliest entrance, and hath worn his crown
In the high temples of the Eternal Town!
The Palatine hath welcomed back her king,
And with his name the seven mountains ring!

And Naples hath outlived her dream of pain,
And mocks her tyrant!  Venice lives again,
New risen from the waters! and the cry
Of Light and Truth, of Love and Liberty,
Is heard in lordly Genoa, and where
The marble spires of Milan wound the air,
Rings from the Alps to the Sicilian shore,
And Dante’s dream is now a dream no more.

But thou, Ravenna, better loved than all,
Thy ruined palaces are but a pall
That hides thy fallen greatness! and thy name
Burns like a grey and flickering candle-flame
Beneath the noonday splendour of the sun
Of new Italia! for the night is done,
The night of dark oppression, and the day
Hath dawned in passionate splendour:  far away
The Austrian hounds are hunted from the land,
Beyond those ice-crowned citadels which stand
Girdling the plain of royal Lombardy,
From the far West unto the Eastern sea.

I know, indeed, that sons of thine have died
In Lissa’s waters, by the mountain-side
Of Aspromonte, on Novara’s plain,—
Nor have thy children died for thee in vain:
And yet, methinks, thou hast not drunk this wine
From grapes new-crushed of Liberty divine,
Thou hast not followed that immortal Star
Which leads the people forth to deeds of war.
Weary of life, thou liest in silent sleep,
As one who marks the lengthening shadows creep,
Careless of all the hurrying hours that run,
Mourning some day of glory, for the sun
Of Freedom hath not shewn to thee his face,
And thou hast caught no flambeau in the race.

Yet wake not from thy slumbers,—rest thee well,
Amidst thy fields of amber asphodel,
Thy lily-sprinkled meadows,—rest thee there,
To mock all human greatness:  who would dare
To vent the paltry sorrows of his life
Before thy ruins, or to praise the strife
Of kings’ ambition, and the barren pride
Of warring nations! wert not thou the Bride
Of the wild Lord of Adria’s stormy sea!
The Queen of double Empires! and to thee
Were not the nations given as thy prey!
And now—thy gates lie open night and day,
The grass grows green on every tower and hall,
The ghastly fig hath cleft thy bastioned wall;
And where thy mailed warriors stood at rest
The midnight owl hath made her secret nest.
O fallen! fallen! from thy high estate,
O city trammelled in the toils of Fate,
Doth nought remain of all thy glorious days,
But a dull shield, a crown of withered bays!

Yet who beneath this night of wars and fears,
From tranquil tower can watch the coming years;
Who can foretell what joys the day shall bring,
Or why before the dawn the linnets sing?
Thou, even thou, mayst wake, as wakes the rose
To crimson splendour from its grave of snows;
As the rich corn-fields rise to red and gold
From these brown lands, now stiff with Winter’s cold;
As from the storm-rack comes a perfect star!

O much-loved city!  I have wandered far
From the wave-circled islands of my home;
Have seen the gloomy mystery of the Dome
Rise slowly from the drear Campagna’s way,
Clothed in the royal purple of the day:
I from the city of the violet crown
Have watched the sun by Corinth’s hill go down,
And marked the ‘myriad laughter’ of the sea
From starlit hills of flower-starred Arcady;
Yet back to thee returns my perfect love,
As to its forest-nest the evening dove.

O poet’s city! one who scarce has seen
Some twenty summers cast their doublets green
For Autumn’s livery, would seek in vain
To wake his lyre to sing a louder strain,
Or tell thy days of glory;—poor indeed
Is the low murmur of the shepherd’s reed,
Where the loud clarion’s blast should shake the sky,
And flame across the heavens! and to try
Such lofty themes were folly:  yet I know
That never felt my heart a nobler glow
Than when I woke the silence of thy street
With clamorous trampling of my horse’s feet,
And saw the city which now I try to sing,
After long days of weary travelling.

VII.

Adieu, Ravenna! but a year ago,
I stood and watched the crimson sunset glow
From the lone chapel on thy marshy plain:
The sky was as a shield that caught the stain
Of blood and battle from the dying sun,
And in the west the circling clouds had spun
A royal robe, which some great God might wear,
While into ocean-seas of purple air
Sank the gold galley of the Lord of Light.

Yet here the gentle stillness of the night
Brings back the swelling tide of memory,
And wakes again my passionate love for thee:
Now is the Spring of Love, yet soon will come
On meadow and tree the Summer’s lordly bloom;
And soon the grass with brighter flowers will blow,
And send up lilies for some boy to mow.
Then before long the Summer’s conqueror,
Rich Autumn-time, the season’s usurer,
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees,
And see it scattered by the spendthrift breeze;
And after that the Winter cold and drear.
So runs the perfect cycle of the year.
And so from youth to manhood do we go,
And fall to weary days and locks of snow.
Love only knows no winter; never dies:
Nor cares for frowning storms or leaden skies
And mine for thee shall never pass away,
Though my weak lips may falter in my lay.

Adieu!  Adieu! yon silent evening star,
The night’s ambassador, doth gleam afar,
And bid the shepherd bring his flocks to fold.
Perchance before our inland seas of gold
Are garnered by the reapers into sheaves,
Perchance before I see the Autumn leaves,
I may behold thy city; and lay down
Low at thy feet the poet’s laurel crown.

Adieu!  Adieu! yon silver lamp, the moon,
Which turns our midnight into perfect noon,
Doth surely light thy towers, guarding well
Where Dante sleeps, where Byron loved to dwell.
Sylvia Plath  Jun 2009
Pheasant
You said you would **** it this morning.
Do not **** it. It startles me still,
The jut of that odd, dark head, pacing

Through the uncut grass on the elm's hill.
It is something to own a pheasant,
Or just to be visited at all.

I am not mystical: it isn't
As if I thought it had a spirit.
It is simply in its element.

That gives it a kingliness, a right.
The print of its big foot last winter,
The trail-track, on the snow in our court

The wonder of it, in that pallor,
Through crosshatch of sparrow and starling.
Is it its rareness, then? It is rare.

But a dozen would be worth having,
A hundred, on that hill-green and red,
Crossing and recrossing: a fine thing!

It is such a good shape, so vivid.
It's a little cornucopia.
It unclaps, brown as a leaf, and loud,

Settles in the elm, and is easy.
It was sunning in the narcissi.
I trespass stupidly. Let be, let be.
But some good Triton-god had ruth, and bare
The boy’s drowned body back to Grecian land,
And mermaids combed his dank and dripping hair
And smoothed his brow, and loosed his clenching hand;
Some brought sweet spices from far Araby,
And others bade the halcyon sing her softest lullaby.

And when he neared his old Athenian home,
A mighty billow rose up suddenly
Upon whose oily back the clotted foam
Lay diapered in some strange fantasy,
And clasping him unto its glassy breast
Swept landward, like a white-maned steed upon a venturous quest!

Now where Colonos leans unto the sea
There lies a long and level stretch of lawn;
The rabbit knows it, and the mountain bee
For it deserts Hymettus, and the Faun
Is not afraid, for never through the day
Comes a cry ruder than the shout of shepherd lads at play.

But often from the thorny labyrinth
And tangled branches of the circling wood
The stealthy hunter sees young Hyacinth
Hurling the polished disk, and draws his hood
Over his guilty gaze, and creeps away,
Nor dares to wind his horn, or—else at the first break of day

The Dryads come and throw the leathern ball
Along the reedy shore, and circumvent
Some goat-eared Pan to be their seneschal
For fear of bold Poseidon’s ravishment,
And loose their girdles, with shy timorous eyes,
Lest from the surf his azure arms and purple beard should rise.

On this side and on that a rocky cave,
Hung with the yellow-belled laburnum, stands
Smooth is the beach, save where some ebbing wave
Leaves its faint outline etched upon the sands,
As though it feared to be too soon forgot
By the green rush, its playfellow,—and yet, it is a spot

So small, that the inconstant butterfly
Could steal the hoarded money from each flower
Ere it was noon, and still not satisfy
Its over-greedy love,—within an hour
A sailor boy, were he but rude enow
To land and pluck a garland for his galley’s painted prow,

Would almost leave the little meadow bare,
For it knows nothing of great pageantry,
Only a few narcissi here and there
Stand separate in sweet austerity,
Dotting the unmown grass with silver stars,
And here and there a daffodil waves tiny scimitars.

Hither the billow brought him, and was glad
Of such dear servitude, and where the land
Was ****** of all waters laid the lad
Upon the golden margent of the strand,
And like a lingering lover oft returned
To kiss those pallid limbs which once with intense fire burned,

Ere the wet seas had quenched that holocaust,
That self-fed flame, that passionate lustihead,
Ere grisly death with chill and nipping frost
Had withered up those lilies white and red
Which, while the boy would through the forest range,
Answered each other in a sweet antiphonal counter-change.

And when at dawn the wood-nymphs, hand-in-hand,
Threaded the bosky dell, their satyr spied
The boy’s pale body stretched upon the sand,
And feared Poseidon’s treachery, and cried,
And like bright sunbeams flitting through a glade
Each startled Dryad sought some safe and leafy ambuscade.

Save one white girl, who deemed it would not be
So dread a thing to feel a sea-god’s arms
Crushing her ******* in amorous tyranny,
And longed to listen to those subtle charms
Insidious lovers weave when they would win
Some fenced fortress, and stole back again, nor thought it sin

To yield her treasure unto one so fair,
And lay beside him, thirsty with love’s drouth,
Called him soft names, played with his tangled hair,
And with hot lips made havoc of his mouth
Afraid he might not wake, and then afraid
Lest he might wake too soon, fled back, and then, fond renegade,

Returned to fresh assault, and all day long
Sat at his side, and laughed at her new toy,
And held his hand, and sang her sweetest song,
Then frowned to see how froward was the boy
Who would not with her maidenhood entwine,
Nor knew that three days since his eyes had looked on Proserpine;

Nor knew what sacrilege his lips had done,
But said, ‘He will awake, I know him well,
He will awake at evening when the sun
Hangs his red shield on Corinth’s citadel;
This sleep is but a cruel treachery
To make me love him more, and in some cavern of the sea

Deeper than ever falls the fisher’s line
Already a huge Triton blows his horn,
And weaves a garland from the crystalline
And drifting ocean-tendrils to adorn
The emerald pillars of our bridal bed,
For sphered in foaming silver, and with coral crowned head,

We two will sit upon a throne of pearl,
And a blue wave will be our canopy,
And at our feet the water-snakes will curl
In all their amethystine panoply
Of diamonded mail, and we will mark
The mullets swimming by the mast of some storm-foundered bark,

Vermilion-finned with eyes of bossy gold
Like flakes of crimson light, and the great deep
His glassy-portaled chamber will unfold,
And we will see the painted dolphins sleep
Cradled by murmuring halcyons on the rocks
Where Proteus in quaint suit of green pastures his monstrous
flocks.

And tremulous opal-hued anemones
Will wave their purple fringes where we tread
Upon the mirrored floor, and argosies
Of fishes flecked with tawny scales will thread
The drifting cordage of the shattered wreck,
And honey-coloured amber beads our twining limbs will deck.’

But when that baffled Lord of War the Sun
With gaudy pennon flying passed away
Into his brazen House, and one by one
The little yellow stars began to stray
Across the field of heaven, ah! then indeed
She feared his lips upon her lips would never care to feed,

And cried, ‘Awake, already the pale moon
Washes the trees with silver, and the wave
Creeps grey and chilly up this sandy dune,
The croaking frogs are out, and from the cave
The nightjar shrieks, the fluttering bats repass,
And the brown stoat with hollow flanks creeps through the dusky
grass.

Nay, though thou art a god, be not so coy,
For in yon stream there is a little reed
That often whispers how a lovely boy
Lay with her once upon a grassy mead,
Who when his cruel pleasure he had done
Spread wings of rustling gold and soared aloft into the sun.

Be not so coy, the laurel trembles still
With great Apollo’s kisses, and the fir
Whose clustering sisters fringe the seaward hill
Hath many a tale of that bold ravisher
Whom men call Boreas, and I have seen
The mocking eyes of Hermes through the poplar’s silvery sheen.

Even the jealous Naiads call me fair,
And every morn a young and ruddy swain
Woos me with apples and with locks of hair,
And seeks to soothe my virginal disdain
By all the gifts the gentle wood-nymphs love;
But yesterday he brought to me an iris-plumaged dove

With little crimson feet, which with its store
Of seven spotted eggs the cruel lad
Had stolen from the lofty sycamore
At daybreak, when her amorous comrade had
Flown off in search of berried juniper
Which most they love; the fretful wasp, that earliest vintager

Of the blue grapes, hath not persistency
So constant as this simple shepherd-boy
For my poor lips, his joyous purity
And laughing sunny eyes might well decoy
A Dryad from her oath to Artemis;
For very beautiful is he, his mouth was made to kiss;

His argent forehead, like a rising moon
Over the dusky hills of meeting brows,
Is crescent shaped, the hot and Tyrian noon
Leads from the myrtle-grove no goodlier spouse
For Cytheraea, the first silky down
Fringes his blushing cheeks, and his young limbs are strong and
brown;

And he is rich, and fat and fleecy herds
Of bleating sheep upon his meadows lie,
And many an earthen bowl of yellow curds
Is in his homestead for the thievish fly
To swim and drown in, the pink clover mead
Keeps its sweet store for him, and he can pipe on oaten reed.

And yet I love him not; it was for thee
I kept my love; I knew that thou would’st come
To rid me of this pallid chastity,
Thou fairest flower of the flowerless foam
Of all the wide AEgean, brightest star
Of ocean’s azure heavens where the mirrored planets are!

I knew that thou would’st come, for when at first
The dry wood burgeoned, and the sap of spring
Swelled in my green and tender bark or burst
To myriad multitudinous blossoming
Which mocked the midnight with its mimic moons
That did not dread the dawn, and first the thrushes’ rapturous
tunes

Startled the squirrel from its granary,
And cuckoo flowers fringed the narrow lane,
Through my young leaves a sensuous ecstasy
Crept like new wine, and every mossy vein
Throbbed with the fitful pulse of amorous blood,
And the wild winds of passion shook my slim stem’s maidenhood.

The trooping fawns at evening came and laid
Their cool black noses on my lowest boughs,
And on my topmost branch the blackbird made
A little nest of grasses for his spouse,
And now and then a twittering wren would light
On a thin twig which hardly bare the weight of such delight.

I was the Attic shepherd’s trysting place,
Beneath my shadow Amaryllis lay,
And round my trunk would laughing Daphnis chase
The timorous girl, till tired out with play
She felt his hot breath stir her tangled hair,
And turned, and looked, and fled no more from such delightful
snare.

Then come away unto my ambuscade
Where clustering woodbine weaves a canopy
For amorous pleasaunce, and the rustling shade
Of Paphian myrtles seems to sanctify
The dearest rites of love; there in the cool
And green recesses of its farthest depth there is pool,

The ouzel’s haunt, the wild bee’s pasturage,
For round its rim great creamy lilies float
Through their flat leaves in verdant anchorage,
Each cup a white-sailed golden-laden boat
Steered by a dragon-fly,—be not afraid
To leave this wan and wave-kissed shore, surely the place was made

For lovers such as we; the Cyprian Queen,
One arm around her boyish paramour,
Strays often there at eve, and I have seen
The moon strip off her misty vestiture
For young Endymion’s eyes; be not afraid,
The panther feet of Dian never tread that secret glade.

Nay if thou will’st, back to the beating brine,
Back to the boisterous billow let us go,
And walk all day beneath the hyaline
Huge vault of Neptune’s watery portico,
And watch the purple monsters of the deep
Sport in ungainly play, and from his lair keen Xiphias leap.

For if my mistress find me lying here
She will not ruth or gentle pity show,
But lay her boar-spear down, and with austere
Relentless fingers string the cornel bow,
And draw the feathered notch against her breast,
And loose the arched cord; aye, even now upon the quest

I hear her hurrying feet,—awake, awake,
Thou laggard in love’s battle! once at least
Let me drink deep of passion’s wine, and slake
My parched being with the nectarous feast
Which even gods affect!  O come, Love, come,
Still we have time to reach the cavern of thine azure home.’

Scarce had she spoken when the shuddering trees
Shook, and the leaves divided, and the air
Grew conscious of a god, and the grey seas
Crawled backward, and a long and dismal blare
Blew from some tasselled horn, a sleuth-hound bayed,
And like a flame a barbed reed flew whizzing down the glade.

And where the little flowers of her breast
Just brake into their milky blossoming,
This murderous paramour, this unbidden guest,
Pierced and struck deep in horrid chambering,
And ploughed a ****** furrow with its dart,
And dug a long red road, and cleft with winged death her heart.

Sobbing her life out with a bitter cry
On the boy’s body fell the Dryad maid,
Sobbing for incomplete virginity,
And raptures unenjoyed, and pleasures dead,
And all the pain of things unsatisfied,
And the bright drops of crimson youth crept down her throbbing
side.

Ah! pitiful it was to hear her moan,
And very pitiful to see her die
Ere she had yielded up her sweets, or known
The joy of passion, that dread mystery
Which not to know is not to live at all,
And yet to know is to be held in death’s most deadly thrall.

But as it hapt the Queen of Cythere,
Who with Adonis all night long had lain
Within some shepherd’s hut in Arcady,
On team of silver doves and gilded wain
Was journeying Paphos-ward, high up afar
From mortal ken between the mountains and the morning star,

And when low down she spied the hapless pair,
And heard the Oread’s faint despairing cry,
Whose cadence seemed to play upon the air
As though it were a viol, hastily
She bade her pigeons fold each straining plume,
And dropt to earth, and reached the strand, and saw their dolorous
doom.

For as a gardener turning back his head
To catch the last notes of the linnet, mows
With careless scythe too near some flower bed,
And cuts the thorny pillar of the rose,
And with the flower’s loosened loneliness
Strews the brown mould; or as some shepherd lad in wantonness

Driving his little flock along the mead
Treads down two daffodils, which side by aide
Have lured the lady-bird with yellow brede
And made the gaudy moth forget its pride,
Treads down their brimming golden chalices
Under light feet which were not made for such rude ravages;

Or as a schoolboy tired of his book
Flings himself down upon the reedy grass
And plucks two water-lilies from the brook,
And for a time forgets the hour glass,
Then wearies of their sweets, and goes his way,
And lets the hot sun **** them, even go these lovers lay.

And Venus cried, ‘It is dread Artemis
Whose bitter hand hath wrought this cruelty,
Or else that mightier maid whose care it is
To guard her strong and stainless majesty
Upon the hill Athenian,—alas!
That they who loved so well unloved into Death’s house should
pass.’

So with soft hands she laid the boy and girl
In the great golden waggon tenderly
(Her white throat whiter than a moony pearl
Just threaded with a blue vein’s tapestry
Had not yet ceased to throb, and still her breast
Swayed like a wind-stirred lily in ambiguous unrest)

And then each pigeon spread its milky van,
The bright car soared into the dawning sky,
And like a cloud the aerial caravan
Passed over the AEgean silently,
Till the faint air was troubled with the song
From the wan mouths that call on bleeding Thammuz all night long.

But when the doves had reached their wonted goal
Where the wide stair of orbed marble dips
Its snows into the sea, her fluttering soul
Just shook the trembling petals of her lips
And passed into the void, and Venus knew
That one fair maid the less would walk amid her retinue,

And bade her servants carve a cedar chest
With all the wonder of this history,
Within whose scented womb their limbs should rest
Where olive-trees make tender the blue sky
On the low hills of Paphos, and the Faun
Pipes in the noonday, and the nightingale sings on till dawn.

Nor failed they to obey her hest, and ere
The morning bee had stung the daffodil
With tiny fretful spear, or from its lair
The waking stag had leapt across the rill
And roused the ouzel, or the lizard crept
Athwart the sunny rock, beneath the grass their bodies slept.

And when day brake, within that silver shrine
Fed by the flames of cressets tremulous,
Queen Venus knelt and prayed to Proserpine
That she whose beauty made Death amorous
Should beg a guerdon from her pallid Lord,
And let Desire pass across dread Charon’s icy ford.
Raymond Walker Apr 2012
From the alleys and streets, from the door steps and heaths, from the meadows and farmlands,
A mist rises, and forms, from the rivers and rills, valleys and hills, from the fields and fissures
It swirls and turns in the night air, forming and fragmenting, failing and fermenting, till it yields.
A figure, blessed and bare, in the late night air, steps into the moonlight, baleful and brazen in its
Nakedness and knowledge, the pall of the shining moon, drips, Grey and silver from his eyes
Youth drips from his thighs, vigour from his lips and fingertips, crimson is his mouth  and *****.
Lions race across his skin as clouds scud across the moon, feral and wild this child of the moon.
Wild and *****, his face shadowed with growth, excited with his youth and desire. On fire.
Panicked by distaste, his own waste and needs, brewed in a mighty beer of disgust, a sire
Of demons, with packaged might, swooping and rearing, devilish and dervish, spiralled, a pyre.
For the noonday sun, wishing hope on everyone yet giving them night and darkness and doom.
Holds my hand and holds it tightly, grapples with me daily and nightly, even in my own room
Where hope takes hold as quick as fear or death or charity, spilling, humors, ethers, exhume
Nothing but a buried evil that has come to see the light. A paltry being, exhumed, of the night











Whilst over all the night comes creeping
Then I go out a’ stealing,
O’er tombstones and moss, where the dead lie sleeping,
Passing the fungi , sarcophagi, and the smell of weeping
Be it from crypt or hall or farmhouse steading.
collecting the shades of the bodies they’re shedding

Through sunlight’s bright blast
Or twilight’s last gleaming
They will be a sowing
And I’ll be a reaping
Through the strongest gale
Or mornings glittering hail
They will be a sowing
And I’ll be a reaping.

Whilst the morn sunlight, over hills comes creeping,
There in the shadows, I’ll be steeling,
Darkening daffodils, turning bluebells black and foxglove steeping
Poison filled and passing the narcissi, and the tears of the leaving.
It may be birth or anniversary or wedding.
I’ll be collecting the souls they are shedding.

Through all the breaths that you will still be breathing
And all those breaths that have passed
And all those breaths still to come you are dreaming
One day you shall take your last.
And that’s where I’ll be stealing








Through sunlight’s bright blast
Or twilight’s last gleaming
They will be a sowing
And I’ll be a reaping
Through the strongest gale
Or mornings glittering hail
They will be a sowing
And I’ll be a reaping.













A ****** of crows blackens the noonday sky,
Called from their nests and eyries
And so many ships have gone by, black masted and steering
Into the wind, Sails tattered and the keel close to shearing
I stand on the nest and watch you weeping
Till the bodies fall into the deepening sea and there lie sleeping
And that’s where I’ll be stealing.

I smiled and laughed
Till the black mast
Fell below the sea
I whimpered and moaned
With those overthrown
Till they lay with me

And I took my place once more at the forefront of man’s destiny.








I crept and waddled and watched and bustled my way to the front of the crew.
I stood behind some and fell behind few; I had come here to see.
I pushed and shoved and elbowed my way to the front, shuffled over and tried to find my pew
I sat with my heart in my mouth, beating doubly in my chest and wondered were the culprit I?

It seemed I had sat in the stalls or in the balcony, way out in front
But it seems I had not sat at all just fell into the orchestras’ well.
But I remembered that I had sat, adjusted my clothes, my underwear, my hat.
As a man should do, are we not gentlemen and so I took tea and sat.








Paying court; To the girl with the blue eyes and the thin lipped smile, the girl that knew.
As most girls do, the thoughts of men, or think that they do. And I so I tried to find her,  
But it seems I had known a Girl with no thought of love, no turtle dove, cuddled
Close, no heavenly host, called to her, but she loved as love must befuddled
Drew her breath deeply but not freely, Took air, perspiring, muddled
Thoughts spinning in her head, amazed, this pale eyed temptress, The girl that knew.
As most girls do, emotions that drift, or think they do. And so found herself alone,
And weeping, a girl that did not know that they could love found that they could.
She murmured words of love and shook sand from her pelt, howled to the moon.
She stood tall on her haunches, praying , baying, to the moon goddess, one of hers.
Baleful eyes pale and moonstruck, seemed star struck with love  a mother with her curs.






Not the focus of her attention, her pale imitation, a pale shape creeps from the crepuscular woods
He slinks into the shadows of the night paying court to this matron, with his smell warmth and lust
She stalls and smells the night air
Little of care, for all stalks the night air
She sidles and smells the night air
Nothing there, In the dark and silent dream that is the night air.
She bridles and hush’s as the night drips onto her
She has cares; for children that whisper in their sleep on the night air.
Bovine, equine, feline and canine and warm fur
A sleep comes upon them all, a pale imitation of life, and a pale shadow creeps into the light.
And smothers the light of day languishing in his power and majesty sending chills unto the living
He waits in the darkness and shadows.














A child mutters unknown words and the time has come to die
Utters words of fortune and Questions your reasons why.

My dear, my love, child, why do you cry?

I shook myself awake
From my bed of dreams
And warmth
I pulled the duvet over
Took to my feet and felt
The chill

And so I stood, took my bow,  and then knew everything, everything about what I was witnessing,
She looked at him and he looked at she, both knew nothing of how its going to be.
I walked downwards, right down the stairs And I saw everything even the killing thing
He slapped her face and she bloodied drew the knife for all of us to see.
A joyous muse, my heart sang,  witnessing the killing, witnessing the killing and I knew everything.
He looked up at her, she down at him, she was so lucky that she had set him free.
I watched with glee for all I could see, to jail the police said as I sat, as I sat listening.

I heard your excuse I hear your plea, please madam judge don’t let that happen to me
She stood in the dock and sat on the chair,  and told everything, the things I’d been witnessing,
Told how she had murdered he, in a fit of rage it was not her fault she should be set free.
Not the judge, not the jury, but I knew everything and shed knowledge of my fury.

I remember the blade, I remember the fury. I now have to thank the jury.
A just verdict, a wrong righted,  a sacred trust bighted.  And just penury.


















These children are mine sayeth the lady
Though the money I earn is a little shady
I look after them through the day
And at night none can say.
Little darlings,
Wont come to no harm, I keep them apart,
Little darlings, are always in my heart.
Sleeping and dreaming and held apart,
They’re just kids and held in my heart.  

Through sunlight’s bright blast
Or twilights last gleaming
They will be a sowing
And I’ll be a reaping
Through the strongest gale
Or mornings glittering hail
They will be a sowing
And I’ll be a reaping.



I have heard your thoughts ideas and whims
I have heard your excuses , you hacked off a limb,
Because he was bad, she was a devil, and I have never heard so much drivel.
She was a monster, he was a slave, you never thought of the love that they gave.
I saw you had it hard and it must have been so bad
It was trouble, never ever had you been so sad
She was a *****, with an eternal itch, a witch that was not worth forgiving.
She was a dragon, he was a monster,  it was no longer a life worth living
She pulled me down, he dragged me down into a cesspit of hope.
And off they loped into the night.















'
Publicly he seemed alright, not the ***** that he really was. She was so cool en vogue, en vie,
She pulled the love from this heart like a harvester, reaping all that he could sow, all that she was due.
She meditates on her  betrayal and justifies it to herself and thinks so few, so very soulless few
Would not, and she is more, so very much more and then lifts the knife and delivers his due.
In the early hue of evenings last breath, he drew his and she smiled, just his due.






Sorry tales; I know
Tales no one should know
Tales that diffidently show
The differences, the shocks
All the stops and blocks
That love mocks
In its immortal way
Tarnished and bloodied
It soldiers on, unhurried.









I looked for the heartbroken, the tarnished, the burned; and found them all
For there were so many. Loves that went good and bad; those that hurt  and those that fall
I looked for the unforgiving and hopeless and found them all, some happy in their own way,
The traitors of love I looked also for and found hopeless and alone, shriven but hearty in their own way.
I looked to the martyrs of love, those that have loved deeply and have lost,  for many do







And I was one that did. I knew love as pure as a mountain stream,
Unsullied, clean and precious, but no love is as true as the perfect love
No thing is just as wondrous and perfect as it may  perfectly seem,
Chaste, virginal, and all just yours, lest it be a gift from angels above.

And I loped off into the night
Full of sweat and blood,
Flushed with heaven above
And hell below
Both knew my hollow soul











And through sunlight’s bright blast trampling daemons I came, shamed and hollow
Risen from this earth, cursed to death, in twilights last gleaming, brazen but sullied
The seeds of doom are sown  by such as I  and they were sown deep and fertilised with blood
And reaped by those that know,  reaped by hands that touch, lips that kiss and know,
hunger and want, lust and lie, eyes that darken and hooded, draw lust from liars,
Build from truth funeral pyres,  and fires for the ****** and yet I remain and sullied
Smirk with each passing glance or circumstance at the great and good, the unwashed
The hooded and deep, the shallow and callow, the wanton and unwanted, the sane
And simple, the masterful and master less, musical and malleable, the strange and straight.

These I trampled under heel with little feeling or thought
The form I took was human, the place I came from; dread
I looked and watched and took note, I spoke and listened
Pay’ed heed,  Culpable and crazed, yet my form remained,
this spectre.
Dying now.
Paid heed.
A rather long poem and the first I have added being a new member. I hope you like it.
Nancy E Tracy  Aug 2015
NARCISSI
Nancy E Tracy Aug 2015
I've had time
to look around
at all the folks I've met

Searching for the perfect
And I haven't found one
like
me
yet
Nobody's Perfect.....
Seán Mac Falls Feb 2014
Little dull birdies  .  .  .
Love own songs by mirror pond,
  .  .  .  Graceful swan sails by.
I wandered through Scoglietto’s far retreat,
The oranges on each o’erhanging spray
Burned as bright lamps of gold to shame the day;
Some startled bird with fluttering wings and fleet
Made snow of all the blossoms; at my feet
Like silver moons the pale narcissi lay:
And the curved waves that streaked the great green bay
Laughed i’ the sun, and life seemed very sweet.
Outside the young boy-priest passed singing clear,
‘Jesus the son of Mary has been slain,
O come and fill His sepulchre with flowers.’
Ah, God!  Ah, God! those dear Hellenic hours
Had drowned all memory of Thy bitter pain,
The Cross, the Crown, the Soldiers and the Spear.
Sam Hammond  Aug 2018
Spring
Sam Hammond Aug 2018
The sun never shines, the moon never sleeps,
Beneath the sky's blanket the earth is still.
Irises blossom and irises weep
And narcissi thrive in the uncertain chill.
Radiant colours have painted the fields,
Green of the gammas and epsilon black.
Change is a force only nature can wield,
Grief is a certainty nature brings back.
The sun never shines, the sky's never rich.
Cursed with a greyness of which it won't shed.
Monchromatic and bleak and eldritch,
Stitched to horizons with lavender thread.
Spring, in my youth, was a beautiful sight,
Desolate land would be painted anew.
Now that I've aged I can see through its sleight,
Engulfed by despair as the grass is by dew.
Cody Edwards Apr 2010
Mother Edge
You walk with me
To Petri dishes
And light my silver lungs
With a screaming match
Drink the earth with
Me until dawn.

Father Red
I’ve run to your thunderous
Carpet in these shoes that
Can’t breathe through
The narcissi on which
You asked me to balance:
The electric taste.

Sister Shard
Sit like we did on the
Ship’s stomach
Memory has a hole in his lip
And my key broke
Smoke accidental
While you were gone.

Brother Trail
I grew in your shadow
Simple sentence cell
And dreamed, oh, dreamed
Of my black fingers green fingers
Sharpening
Coins for your eyes.
© Cody Edwards 2010
1
Shivering, I stand alone
inside a sleepy railway station,
looking for a train that never comes,
watching as my spirit comes undone

From the ceaseless clicking of the clock,
the senseless ticking of the watch
that weighs my body down.

Behold how the mortal earns his fate:
There is always time to wait.

                    2
No sooner does time expire,
than it rises up to sire
its progeny again.

Shamelessly self-seeking,
it wrecks our days reeking of narcissi.

Gaze into its plate of polished glass
and watch your phantoms pass.

They punched their tickets late.
There is always time to wait.

                    3
The Flame of Life arrives on a second-class coach.
He eyes me, careful not to reproach my sensibilities.

He comes to cauterize my wounds of time,
but worries I might swoon or mind
the excessive heat.

Perhaps he’s right; I’ll change the date.
There is always time to wait.

— The End —