New Series No. 20 - 2002
The Poet has passed away
The poet has passed away. Or rather, snuffed
it. How did the world taste at his last gasp?
We don’t know, and we are ashamed to guess.
Like cranberry jelly, maybe, or perhaps
like peas boiled to a mush. But he himself,
he neither wished for life nor termination,
nor children, nor a father. Everything
is repetition, mass, continuation.
And we, his hashish smokers, what are we?
Just nothingness, some kind of super-nil,
plastic sneaked in to take the place of gold.
They’ll ship him to the Island of the Dead,
the waves gleaming with sperm and diesel oil,
between palazzos crumbling to death.
Shivering in silks and lace, the youthful widow
sits in the gondola, and the gondolier
will understand: it’s not the words, the slush,
nor the ambassadors of his indifferent homeland,
but above all the metrical hysterics . . .
– what are they to us? And we,
when our time comes to quit the sandy shore,
when our hour strikes, we’ll have our wishes too.
And yet he also wished . . . And how he wished!
As long as our high wishes still are cased
within the leather binding of our bodies,
he is alive – is life – is fuss and trash,
and therefore he is humbleness, a shrine
flowering among the universe’s ruin.
What does death mean for him? Another flight.
Who do they sing for now, what do they sing,
his guttural speaking voice, his raucous laugh?
No, people of his kind do not die. No,
they leave, and as they go, turn out the light, –
but the grain cannot flourish in the dark.
It lies there unavailing, white and blind,
crushed by an unintelligible fate,
plunged into silence till the moment comes.
What can they mean for it, the empty words?
What can she mean, the captivating widow?
And what the prophet’s immortality?
Translated by Peter France
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The