The best of us British fell on the Somme, Verdun, Passchendaele,
Our luckier cousins had long ago set off across the broad Atlantic
Convicts moved to the antipodes, to the Swan River of Western Australia
Convict scum of the East End born to live again.
The ragged Scots, after Culloden
So many Irish everywhere in the Empire
The Raj with the spice and opium settlements in Shanghai,
Hong Kong, Sri Lanka.
Every mountain climbed
All oceans crossed.
Now only the scrag-ends remain
Whenever I see a death date, say 1989,
I think in 1986 she had three years
Left to live.
Except in his case, he was born and died in 1985.
His blue-blue eyes.
Made me think of the Aztecs
Silky, gossamer, filmy wind-borne seed floating by
High, high, so very, very high, in the Andes.
Disguise is worse than lies
Hear the grass grow, the squirrel’s heart beat,
Will we die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence?
Soon, my lady very soon: if you please.
Tender is the Night
And all her forgotten beauty
People pass out of sight
On this August midnight
When the serpent and the saviour sit
Somewhere in old-England
They drink and spit
and do not talk.
No truths hidden from our lady moon
No disguising this faint silvery tune.
Such wide-open rosy faces, facing the blackest sky,
Gnarled hands shade frightened eyes,
Outside he walks with a black shadow lingering
No, no, this is no time for disguise.
On this day of flowers, the animals follow
The usual path of the sun.
Ripples coagulate like water,
All manner of things mirror our big brother sun
On this shining Ἀρκαδία of August 1941.
Sweet airs fill the breezes
Forgotten summer scents,
O! The billowing of intent
Reed and oak and beech
This beautiful canopy of the living green,
Shimmering in this too bright light
Thunder clouds swarm
Rumble out of sight.
I climb this vertiginous cliff path,
Which connects the now and then,
Seen in all its chasmal beauty.
The brightest of stars
On the blackest of nights.
On this Good Friday in Mosul
an abomination, a defilement and disgrace
that leaves the gates of heaven firmly closed
and the gates of hell a crowded place.