Conrad Potter Aiken

(5 August 1889 – 17 August 1973 / Savannah, Georgia)

Goya - Poem by Conrad Potter Aiken

Goya drew a pig on a wall.
The five-year-old hairdresser’s son
Saw, graved on a silver tray,
The lion; and sunsets were begun.


Goya smelt the bull-fight blood.
The pupil of the Carmelite
Gave his hands to a goldsmith, learned
To gild an aureole aright.


Goya saw the Puzzel’s eyes:
Sang in the street (with a guitar)
And climbed the balcony; but Keats
(Under the halyards) wrote ‘Bright star.’


Goya saw the Great Slut pick
The chirping human puppets up,
And laugh, with pendulous mountain lip,
And drown them in a coffee cup;


Or squeeze their little juices out
In arid hands, insensitive,
To make them gibber . . . Goya went
Among the catacombs to live.


He saw gross Ronyons of the air,
Harelipped and goitered, raped in flight
By hairless pimps, umbrella-winged:
Tumult above Madrid at night.


He heard the seconds in his clock
Crack like seeds, divulge, and pour
Abysmal filth of Nothingness
Between the pendulum and the floor:


Torrents of dead veins, rotted cells,
Tonsils decayed, and fingernails:
Dead hair, dead fur, dead claws, dead skin:
Nostrils and lids; and cauls and veils;


And eyes that still, in death, remained
(Unlidded and unlashed) aware
Of the foul core, and, fouler yet,
The region worm that ravins there.


Stench flowed out of the second’s tick.
And Goya swam with it through Space,
Sweating the fetor from his limbs,
And stared upon the unfeatured face


That did not see, and sheltered naught,
But was, and is. The second gone,
Goya returned, and drew the face;
And scrawled beneath it, ‘This I have known’ . . .


And drew four slatterns, in an attic,
Heavy, with heads on arms, asleep:
And underscribed it, ‘Let them slumber,
Who, if they woke, could only weep’ . . .


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010



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