Kenneth Slessor

(27 March 1901 – 30 June 1971 / Orange, New South Wales)

To Myself - Poem by Kenneth Slessor

AFTER all, you are my rather tedious hero;
It is impossible (damn it!) to avoid
Looking at you through keyholes.
But come! At least you might try to be
Even, let us say, a Graceful Zero
Or an Eminent Molecule, gorgeously employed.
Have you not played Hamlet's father in the wings
Long enough, listening to poets groan,
Seeking a false catharsis
In flesh not yours, through doors ajar
In the houses of dead kings,
In the gods' tombs, in the coffins of cracked stone?
Have you not poured yourself, thin fluid mind,
Down the dried-up canals, the powdering creeks,
Whose waters none remember
Either to praise them or condemn,
Whose fabulous cataracts none can find
Save one who has forgotten what he seeks?
Your uncle, the Great Harry, left after him
The memory of a cravat, a taste in cheese,
And a way of saying 'I am honoured.'
Such things, when men and beasts have gone,
Smell sweetly to the seraphim.
Believe me, fool, there are worse gifts than these.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Poem Edited: Friday, November 18, 2011

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