[And with a pseudo-georgic flourish I sound my last post on this blog! And my first in quite a while… Think of it as a postscript of sorts to all the other posts, if you like. Thank you to my followers, likers, commenters, browsers—all my visitors. Anyone looking for answers can simply consult the good book—Virgil’s Georgics. (Chapter and verse for the browsers: Bk IV, ll. 559–566.) Ave atque vale!]
—Thus I sang the fields of change, the flocks of self, While Tsar Trump thundered war across a continent, Offering walls to willing men, treading the way To white Olympus. I, Daniel, nursed by soft Hibernia, Pursued the peaceful paths of poetry, scribbling While Rome burned with rabid lust for better things And worse. Now you, patiently listening, won’t you sing The deep, besieging shade of your own being?
[My first blog post, back in 2009, was a far different version of the poem below. I removed it from the site when I started blogging again in 2013, and had no plans to revisit it. But for some reason, more than six years after I first wrote it, I have started writing it again—and have made it much shorter if not much else. So, gentle poem, welcome back to the internet. (And great Achilles will be sent once more to Troy!)]
The deepest past’s mere meters down, a lot of dust no doubt to those who made it, but even ground this trodden—boots, bare soles— is air to a bomb. A wall that rose, and was buried in time,
rises again, its surface glass- like rock, blue as movie-star-eyes. The weathered ones whose hands glossed the standing stone, like skies over Ur long watched for sterile signs of things to pass, have passed.
Colours, populous in nature, do not penetrate the iris, but glass can well invade her eyes, two dirt-red pebbles smoothed by salt water. Something happens with life, some stray contour
around the side of natural beauty shakes its skin and crumbles into want. A thimbleful of chancing chemicals falls in a careful mess, carelessness diluting the dead-still,
slow-dying purity of rock. The girl picks lapis lazuli from her eyes. Fired up and dropped, the shrapnel of history shattered her sight. Stop. Do not worry. Even walls cannot last.
Tityrus lounges in the shade, Bees lullaby the sleepy glade, The reed sings soft, soft as the grass— Then Meliboeus comes to pass, Sour Meliboeus and his goats, Their grumblings putting ends to oats. Thus always when one feels pastoral Comes some exile with his quarrel.
Nameless, that is what I must be. But even “I” is a name, and even “be”. Anything which only is, I must be as anything which only is.
first thought: “which is like this”
second thought: “which is in this way”
third thought: “which only is”, might be called the final thought because it was the chosen one, but that too is a name.
A poem to be called “Final”
Nameless, really, Slip your name, the heavy breath of others on your birth, the heaviness of your own thoughts, of “your” and “own”. There will always be thoughts, But let them rise like bubbles from the deep And free themselves in empty air, leaving the surface calm, the water more fully water.
Fearing winter like an old man now, Fall’s chill settling in, the evenings dark, I worry my mind’s furrows with the plow Of thought, each pale idea dropping like a spark Whose fire’s burned out. I brood like ashes In an arctic hearth, clinging to my days With cold-cracked hands, feeling no more the flashes Which in youth promised the world—and then delivered this. But what’s “this”? Just what I think it, nothing else; All its brute nature’s but my frown or grin. And now, so late as now, can’t I replace All raw reactions with deep breath? Can’t I at last begin To give no heed to prize or peril And live like old Diogenes in his barrel?