Michael Shepherd

(8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! ! The lake of metaphor


and perhaps I came to poetry too late
to dive, a slimmish youth,
innocent as youth was or is
into the rich waters of the lake of metaphor
fed distantly by mountain springs,
welcoming in its wateriness,
chilling too like a demand for respect,
welcoming and chilling as a life;
a few strokes and already the green bank
and pile of crumpled clothes discarded
quickly distant, and here
in the middle of the lake, the sky
has opened out as if it were
some rival to a mountain-top

and the hands press against
the resistances of language, the palms
flat as between praise and surrender,
cleaving a passage to the depth
and then the shore of metaphor; and
emerging, the sunlight
catching the sparkling water droplets,
the skin shivering but invigorated,
the mind full of life
like a poem rich in metaphor.

Older now,
waiting as in the paintings of Saint Jerome
at his desk walled in by books,
pen poised, eyes uplifted,
spirit, rich, yet
mind not full, but waiting
for the grace of metaphor
like the brushing of a white dove's wing

Submitted: Friday, May 11, 2007
Edited: Friday, February 25, 2011

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