Here

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that's who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under

Meditations In Time Of Civil War

I
Ancestral Houses
SURELY among a rich man s flowering lawns,
Amid the rustle of his planted hills,
Life overflows without ambitious pains;
And rains down life until the basin spills,
And mounts more dizzy high the more it rains
As though to choose whatever shape it wills
And never stoop to a mechanical
Or servile shape, at others' beck and call.

(001) Thank God I'M An Atheist!

One fine night, in the middle of the day,
two atheists knelt down to pray.
Hymn books opened upside-down,
in Top Hat n Tails, and their dressing gown.

The in-verse lyrics from the page,
sung happily with joyous rage.
Two old friends, first meeting each other,
(both my Grandad’s grandson’s sister’s brother.)
With sufficient humility, to make them proud,

Hugging The Jukebox

On an island the soft hue of memory,
moss green, kerosene yellow, drifting, mingling
in the Caribbean Sea,
a six-year-old named Alfred
learns all the words to all the songs
on his grandparents’ jukebox, and sings them.
To learn the words is not so hard.
Many barmaids and teenagers have done as well.
But to sing as Alfred sings—
how can a giant whale live in the small pool of his chest?

Are You Content?

I CALL on those that call me son,
Grandson, or great-grandson,
On uncles, aunts, great-uncles or great-aunts,
To judge what I have done.
Have I, that put it into words,
Spoilt what old loins have sent?
Eyes spiritualised by death can judge,
I cannot, but I am not content.
He that in Sligo at Drumcliff
Set up the old stone Cross,

Autobiography

I was born in 1902
I never once went back to my birthplace
I don't like to turn back
at three I served as a pasha's grandson in Aleppo
at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University
at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party's guest
and I've been a poet since I was fourteen
some people know all about plants some about fish
I know separation
some people know the names of the stars by heart

Courtship Of Miles Standish, The

I
MILES STANDISH

In the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims
To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling,
Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather,
Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain.
Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him, and pausing
Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare,
Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber, --

Forget

Forget the suffering
You caused others.
Forget the suffering
Others caused you.
The waters run and run,
Springs sparkle and are done,
You walk the earth you are forgetting.

Sometimes you hear a distant refrain.
What does it mean, you ask, who is singing?

Daddy’s Boots (Children)

Daddy left his boots for me
and here I have to stay
‘cause Daddy is a soldier,
I’m in charge while he’s away.

In Daddy’s boots I can pretend
that now I am the man
who does the things that Daddy does
as only Daddy can.

Salut Au Monde


O TAKE my hand, Walt Whitman!
Such gliding wonders! such sights and sounds!
Such join'd unended links, each hook'd to the next!
Each answering all--each sharing the earth with all.

What widens within you, Walt Whitman?
What waves and soils exuding?
What climes? what persons and lands are here?
Who are the infants? some playing, some slumbering?

Good

The old man comes out on the hill
and looks down to recall earlier days
in the valley. He sees the stream shine,
the church stand, hears the litter of
children's voices. A chill in the flesh
tells him that death is not far off
now: it is the shadow under the great boughs
of life. His garden has herbs growing.
The kestrel goes by with fresh prey
in its claws. The wind scatters the scent

Beowulf

LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,

Metamorphoses: Book The Eleventh

HERE, while the Thracian bard's enchanting strain
Sooths beasts, and woods, and all the listn'ing
plain,
The female Bacchanals, devoutly mad,
In shaggy skins, like savage creatures, clad,
Warbling in air perceiv'd his lovely lay,
And from a rising ground beheld him play.
When one, the wildest, with dishevel'd hair,
That loosely stream'd, and ruffled in the air;

Helian

In the spirit’s solitary hours
It is lovely to walk in the sun
Along the yellow walls of summer.
Quietly whisper the steps in the grass; yet always sleeps
The son of Pan in the grey marble.

At eventide on the terrace we got drunk on brown wine
The red peach glows under the foliage.
Tender sonata, joyous laughter.

Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur

"How shall I be a poet?
How shall I write in rhyme?
You told me once 'the very wish
Partook of the sublime.'
The tell me how! Don't put me off
With your 'another time'!"

The old man smiled to see him,
To hear his sudden sally;
He liked the lad to speak his mind

Metamorphoses: Book The Sixth

PALLAS, attending to the Muse's song,
Approv'd the just resentment of their wrong;
And thus reflects: While tamely I commend
Those who their injur'd deities defend,
My own divinity affronted stands,
And calls aloud for justice at my hands;
Then takes the hint, asham'd to lag behind,
And on Arachne' bends her vengeful mind;
One at the loom so excellently skill'd,

The Stockman

The sun was in the summer grass,
the Coolibahs* were twisted steel;
the stockman paused beneath their shade
and sat upon his heel,
and with the reins looped through his arm
he rolled tobacco in his palm.

His horse stood still, His cattle-dog
tongued in the shadow of the tree,
and for a moment on the plain

The Odyssey


BOOK I

Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide
after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit,
and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was
acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save
his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he
could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer
folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god

I Want To Die Before You

I
want to die before you.
Do you think that who passes later
will find who's gone before?
I don't think so.
You'd better have me burned,
and put me on the stove in your room
in a jar.
The jar shall be made of glass,
transparent, white glass

Shepherd And Goatherd

Shepherd. That cry's from the first cuckoo of the year.
I wished before it ceased.

Goatherd. Nor bird nor beast
Could make me wish for anything this day,
Being old, but that the old alone might die,
And that would be against God's providence.
Let the young wish. But what has brought you here?
Never until this moment have we met
Where my goats browse on the scarce grass or leap