Emmanuel George Cefai

Gold Star - 35,573 Points (12th March 1955 / Victoria, Gozo)

How Much, How Much - Poem by Emmanuel George Cefai

i.

How much, how much
I wish an oak to be:
Seven hundred years and more
Would I have been
And still
Here would be.


ii.

I would, I would
The coming of the Knights
From my high altitude
First L’Isle Adam
Whilst carried in the chaise
As knights hastened to drape the land
Wherein he passed and graced
And with each other for his honor vied.


iii.

But now, but now
That colored throng is past:
And like a film
Another scene is set:
And in the Port
Group crews I see
Working here and there
Those carry cannon
Those rock cut
The others fare
In framing a fresh bark:
And from on high
Jean La Valette
Looks from a promontory.


And then
And then
I saw a fort
Burn down under the fire
Of missiles thrown at it
And ire
Of the besieger:
A breach in the walls
And then another
And then another
The cannon-ball reft
One after another
All the punctured holes
Into the fort
Like gushes of knives
Like the caverns of age
Down oak trees.

And then
And then
I heard a sudden sound
When the fort fell
Below
Below
In the summer heat
The charred bodies putrefied
And smelled.



But then
When the oppressing heat
Of summer went
And the frail breezes of September cooled
The trees, and land and seas:
I saw a happy crowd alight
On the bastions
Half-torn with cannon stress
And high on high
They waved the flag of victory.


iv.

And every day that followed
I saw the throng of men
Across their life to move
And spin:
Like silkworms to cocoons:
And day and night
And night and day
Passed
Passed
Passed
Under the Knights.

And
In the Port
The navy of the Knights
Withered and lingered
In the ease of peace
Without a war
The grey years passed and turned
And day and night
And night and day
Passed by, passed by.

How many a Knight passed by
In gaudy clothes all lover-like
Unto his present lady:
How many a prisoner
Collapsed amidst the dungeons
Where the sun light
Was rare delight
When the door opened:
How many a lady gay I saw
Now noble riding in sedans
Now thick in winter dress
Now light in summer clothes
Is she:
Now quick with child
And all unmarried she!


v.

This passed.
And then French
Came o’er the horizon:
How many a fight and skirmish I
Saw in those days:
And how red blood was shed
And people saw I then
With knives in them
And cannon-ball
Raise last their eyes
To the fast-dimming skies


vi.

The British came
And our island loved
In peace and war
With war and peace
We throve:
Yet time will come
When separation comes
In every love:
And so
The quiet separation came
As is in every love.


vii.

And now
And then
Day follows night
And Night the Day
And Dawn and Dusk
And in the Night
The pale moon smiles
And in the greyness
Of the Dusk
The red horizon turns
Into a deep mantle of black:
And day will follow night
And night the day
And dawn and dusk
Will come and go:
And we will rise
And toil
In our illusion
And toil
In our bubble
That we ourselves blow:
And toil
Till weary in our illusion
We try to rest
At least we try
We try
To rest.
And new mothers will
Hold their new babes
In hand
And weep:
And in the coffin
When time comes
The sexton leads
And the priest chants
And day will follow night
And night the day.


How that
They came on stage
And disappeared:
And after them
On the old stage
New faces did appear
And on and on
The cycles goes
The circle of life goeth.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, October 3, 2011



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