Kenneth Slessor (27 March 1901 – 30 June 1971 / Orange, New South Wales)
'THESE are the floating berries of the night,
They drop their harvest in dark alleys down,
Softly far down on groves of Venus, or on a little town
Forgotten at the world's edge—and O, their light
Unlocks all closed things, eyes and mouths, and drifts
Quietly over kisses in a golden rain,
Drowning their flight, till suddenly the Cyprian lifts
Her small, white face to the moon, then hides again.
'They are the warm candles of beauty, hung in blessing on high,
Poised like bright comrades on boughs of night above:
They are the link-boys of Queen Venus, running out of the sky,
Spilling their friendly radiance on all her ways of love.
'Should the girl's eyes be lit with swimming fire,
O do not kiss it away, it is a star, a star!'
So cried the passionate poet to his great, romantic guitar.
But I was beating off the stars, gazing, not rhyming.
I saw the bottomless, black cups of space
Between their clusters, and the planets climbing
Dizzily in sick airs, and desired to hide my face.
But I could not escape those tunnels of nothingness,
The cracks in the spinning Cross, nor hold my brain
From rushing for ever down that terrible lane,
Infinity's trap-door, eternal and merciless.
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