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GASCOYNE, David


September Sun

Magnificent strong sun! in these last days

So prodigally generous of pristine light

That’s wasted only by men’s sight who will not see

And by self-darkened spirits from whose night

Can rise no longer orison or praise:

Let us consume in fire unfed like yours

And may the quickened gold within me come

To mintage in due season, and not be

Transmuted to no better end than dumb

And self-sufficient usury. These days and years

May bring the sudden call to harvesting,

When if the fields Man labours only yield

Glitter and husks, then with an angrier sun may He

Who first with His gold seed the sightless field

Of Chaos planted, all our trash to cinders bring.


Orpheus In The Underworld

Curtains of rock

And tears of stone,

Wet leaves in a high crevice of the sky:

From side to side the draperies

Drawn back by rigid hands.

And he came carrying the shattered lyre,

And wearing the blue robes of a king,

And looking through eyes like holes torn in a screen;

And the distant sea was faintly heard,

From time to time, in the suddenly rising wind,

Like a broken song.

Out of his sleep, from time to time,

From between half open lips,

Escaped the bewildered words which try to tell

The tale of his bright night

And his wing-shadowed day

The soaring flights of thought beneath the sun

Above the islands of the seas

And all the deserts, all the pastures, all the plains

Of the distracting foreign land.

He sleeps with the broken lyre between his hands,

And round his slumber are drawn back

The rigid draperies, the tears and wet leaves,

Cold curtains of rock concealing the bottomless sky.


Yves Tanguy

The worlds are breaking in my head

Blown by the brainless wind

That comes from afar

Swollen with dusk and dust

And hysterical rain

The fading cries of the light

Awaken the endless desert

Engrossed in its tropical slumber

Enclosed by the dead grey oceans

Enclasped by the arms of the night

The worlds are breaking in my head

Their fragments are crumbs of despair

The food of the solitary damned

Who await the gross tumult of turbulent

Days bringing change without end.

The worlds are breaking in my head

The fuming future sleeps no more

For their seeds are beginning to grow

To creep and to cry midst the

Rocks of the deserts to come

Planetary seed

Sown by the grotesque wind

Whose head is so swollen with rumours

Whose hands are so urgent with tumours

Whose feet are so deep in the sand.


The Cage

In the waking night

The forests have stopped growing

The shells are listening

The shadows in the pools turn grey

The pearls dissolve in the shadow

And I return to you


Your face is marked upon the clockface,

My hands are beneath your hair

And if the time you mark sets free the birds

And if they fly away towards the forest

The hour will no longer be ours

Ours is the ornate birdcage

The brimming cup of water

The preface to the book

And all the clocks are ticking

All the dark rooms are moving

All the air's nerves are bare.

Once flown

The feathered hour will not return

And I shall have gone away.


Winter garden

The season's anguish, crashing whirlwind, ice,

Have passed, and cleansed the trodden paths,

That silent gardeners have strewn with ash.

The iron circles of the sky,

Are worn away by tempest;

Yet in this garden there is no more strife:

The Winter's knife is buried in the earth.

Pure music is the cry that tears

The birdless branches in the wind.

No blossom is reborn. The blue

Stare of the pond is blind.

And no one sees

A restless stranger through the morning stray

Across the sodden lawn, whose eyes

Are tired of weeping, in whose breast

A savage sun consumes its hidden day.


Ecce Homo
…..
Whose is this horrifying face,

This putrid flesh, discoloured, flayed,

Fed on by flies, scorched by the sun?

Whose are these hollow red-filmed eyes

And thorn-spiked head and spear-stuck side?

Behold the Man: He is Man’s Son.

Forget the legend, tear the decent veil

That cowardice or interest devised

To make their mortal enemy a friend,

To hide the bitter truth all His wounds tell,

Lest the great scandal be no more disguised:

He is in agony till the world’s end,

And we must never sleep during that time!

He is suspended on the cross-tree now

And we are onlookers at the crime,

Callous contemporaries of the slow

Torture of God. Here is the hill

Made ghastly by His spattered blood

Whereon He hangs and suffers still:

See, the centurions wear riding-boots,

Black shirts and badges and peaked caps,

Greet one another with raised-arm salutes;

They have cold eyes, unsmiling lips;

Yet these His brothers know not what they do.

And on his either side hang dead

A labourer and a factory hand,

Or one is maybe a lynched Jew

And one a Negro or a Red,

Coolie or Ethiopian, Irishman,

Spaniard or German democrat.

Behind his lolling head the sky

Glares like a fiery cataract

Red with the murders of two thousand years

Committed in His name and by

Crusaders, Christian warriors

Defending faith and property.

Amid the plain beneath His transfixed hands,

Exuding darkness as indelible

As guilty stains, fanned by funereal

And lurid airs, besieged by drifting sands

And clefted landslides our about-to-be

Bombed and abandoned cities stand.

He who wept for Jerusalem

Now sees His prophecy extend

Across the greatest cities of the world,

A guilty panic reason cannot stem

Rising to raze them all as He foretold;

And He must watch this drama to the end.

Though often named, He is unknown

To the dark kingdoms at His feet

Where everything disparages His words,

And each man bears the common guilt alone

And goes blindfolded to his fate,

And fear and greed are sovereign lords.

The turning point of history

Must come. Yet the complacent and the proud

And who exploit and kill, may be denied–

Christ of Revolution and of Poetry-

The resurrection and the life

Wrought by your spirit’s blood.

Involved in their own sophistry

The black priest and the upright man

Faced by subversive truth shall be struck dumb,

Christ of Revolution and of Poetry,

While the rejected and condemned become

Agents of the divine.

Not from a monstrance silver-wrought

But from the tree of human pain

Redeem our sterile misery,

Christ of Revolution and of Poetry,

That man’s long journey

May not have been in vain.