A widening deepening greenness,
Coming about its own business,
Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head,
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.
At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized,
As a child at a dream, at a jaguar hurrying engaged
Through prison darkness after the drill of his eyes.
On a short fierce fuse. Not is boredom—
The eye satisfied to be blind in fire,
By the bag of blood in the brain deaf the ear—
He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him…
To produce my foot, my each feather:
Now I hold Creation in my foot
Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly—
The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.
More coiled steel than living—a poised
Dark deadly eye, those delicate legs
Triggered to stirrings beyond sense—with a strt, a bounce, a stab
Overtake the instant and drag out some writhing thing.
No indolent procrastinations and no yawning stares,
No sighs or head-scratchings. Nothing but bounce and stab
And a ravening second.
Down to the pond to drink and smell the air,
And he took no pace but the farmer
Led him to take it, as if he knew nothing
Of the ages and continents of his fathers,
Shut, while he wombed, to a dark shed
And steps between his door and the duckpond.
Oil of water body, neither fish nor beast is the otter:
Four-legged yet water-gifted, to outfish fish;
With webbed feet and long ruddering tail
And a round head like an old tomcat.
Brings the legend of himself
From before wars or burials, in spite of bounds and vermin-poles;
Does not take root like the badger. Wanders, cries;
Gallops along land he no longer belongs to;
Re-enters the water by melting.
Till the moorline-blackening dregs of the brightening gry
Halved the sky ahead.
I listened in emptiness on the moor-ridge.
The curlew’s tear turned its edge on the silence.
Slowly detail leafed from the darkness. Then the sun
A glass half full of win left out
To the dark heaven all night, by dawn
Has dreamed a premonition,
Of ice across its eye as if
The ice-age had begun its heave.
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet
Till day rose: then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.
The crabs, dogfish, broken by the breakers or tossed
To flap for half an hour and turn to a crust
Continue the beginning. The deeps are cold:
In that darkness camaraderie does not hold:
Nothing touches but, clutching, devours. And the jaws
Before they are satisfied or their stretched purpose
Slacken, go down jaws; go gnawn bare. Jaws
Eat and are finished and the jawbone comes to the beach;
Vertebrae, claws, carapaces, skulls.
With no more application than sitting
And drinking, and singing, fell in the sleet, late,
Damned the pouring gutter, and slept there and throughout
A night searched by shouts and lamps, froze,
Grew to the road with welts of ice. He was shipped out at dawn
Warm as a pie and snoring.
Fulcrumed without fall
On axes immaterial as
Only geometry should use.
From the four-year mastication by gunfire and mud,
Body buffeted worldless, estranged by long soaking
In the colours of mutilation.
His outer perforations
Were valiantly healed, but he and the hearth-fire, its blood-flicker
On biscuit-bowl and piano and table leg,
Moved into strong and stronger possession
Of minute after minute, as the clock’s tiny cog
Laboured and on the thread of his listening
Dragged him bodily from under
The mortised four-year strata of dead Englishmen
He belonged with.
Calling in the wire, then this one, his best friend,
Went out to bring him in and was shot too;
And this one, the very moment he was warned
But come to the worst they must have done, and held
Closer than their hope; all were killed.
In what cold clockwork of the stars and the nations
Was he the hand pointing that second? He was running
Like a man who has jumped up in the dark and runs
Listening between his footfalls for the reason
Of his still running, and his foot hung like
Statuary in mid-stride.
Still she will carry cups from table to sink.
She cannot build her sorrow into a monument
And walk away from it. Closer than thinking
The dead man hangs around her neck, but never
Close enough to be touched, or thanked even,
For being all that remains in a world smashed.
This had happened too often before
And was going to happen too often in future
And happened too easily
Bones were too like lath and twigs
Blood was too like water
Cries were too like silence
The most terrible grimaces too like footprints in mud
And shooting somebody through the midriff
Was too like striking a match
Too like spotting a snooker ball
Too like tearing up a bill
Blasting the whole world to bits
Was too like slamming a door
Too like dropping in a chair
Exhausted with rage
Too like being down to bits yourself
Which happened too easily
With too like no consequence.
Had Its drowsy mind no longer
Before the funeral service foundered
The lifeboat coffin had shaken to pieces
And the great stars were swimming through where he had been.
Grief of the wife of the dead man is vividly captured:
For a while
The stalk of the tulip at the door that had outlived him.
And his jacket, and his wife, and his last pillow
Clung to each other,
If his right hand still moves, it is a farewell
Already days posthumous.
But the left hand seems to freeze,
And the left leg with its crude plumbing,
And the left half jaw and the left eyelid and the words,
all the huge cries
Frozen in his brain his tongue cannot unfreeze—
While somewhere through a dark heaven
The dark bloodclot moves in.
Till it is not worn out.
She will not move now
Till everything is worn out.
Skylines tug him apart, winds drink him,
Earth itself unravels him from beneath—
His submission is flawless.
Blueflies lift off his beauty.
Beetles and ants officiate
Pestering him with instructions.
His patience grows only more vast,