Kenneth Slessor

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

Undine - Poem by Kenneth Slessor

IN Undine's mirror the cutpurse found
Five candlesticks by magic drowned,
Like boughs of silver . . . and pale as death,
Biting his beard, till the rogue's own breath
Shook all their gourds of fire, he stopped,
Eyed the gilt baskets, gaped half-round . . . .
Then down to the floor his pistol dropped . . . .
No sound in the dark rooms . . . the clank
Of metal and beam died fast . . . and flank
Pressed in strange fear to Undine's bed,
The robber stared long, and bent his head
To that soft wave . . . then hand on silk,
Plumbed the warm valley where nightly sank
Undine the water-maid, caved in milk.
And over those pools, the rogue could smell
Rich essences globed and stoppered well
On Undine's table . . . and row by row,
Jars of green china foamed stiff with snow,
And crystal trays and bottles of stone
Bowed like black slaves to that ivory shell,
The body of Undine . . . but Undine was gone.
Only below the candles' gleam,
In one small casket of waxen cream
With sidelong eyes the thief could follow
That rosy trough, the printed hollow
Of Undine's finger . . . then out to the street
He sprawled and fled . . . but still on the beam
His pistol waited for Undine's feet!

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Poem Edited: Friday, November 18, 2011

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