A.D. Hope
Professor, Department of Enlglish
Australian National University, Canberra

The Kings

The lion in deserts royally takes his prey;
Gaunt crags cast back the hunting eagle's scream.
The King of Parasites, delicate, white and blind,
Ruling his world of fable even as they,
Dreams out his greedy and imperious dream
Immortal in the bellies of mankind.

In a rich bath of pre-digested soup,
Warm in the pulsing bowel, safely shut
From the bright ambient horror of sun and air,
is slender segments ripening loop by loop,
Broods the voluptuous monarch of the gut,
The Tapeworm, the prodigious Solitaire.

Alone among the royal beasts of prey
He takes no partner, no imperial mate
Seeks his embrace and bears his clamorous brood;
Within himself, in soft and passionate play,
Two sexes in their vigour celebrate
The raptures of helminthine solitude.

From the barbed crown that hooks him to his host,
The limble ribbon, fecund, flat and wet
Sways as the stream's delicious juices move;
And as the ripe joints rupture and are lost,
Quivers in the prolonged, delirious jet
And spasm of unremitting acts of love.

And Nature no less prodigal in birth
In savage profusion spreads his royal sway:
Herds are his nurseries till the mouths of men
At public feasts, or the domestic hearth,
Or by the hands of children at their play,
Transmit his line to human flesh again.

The former times, as emblems of an age,
Graved the gier-eagle's pride, the lion's great heart,
Leviathan sporting in the perilous sea;
Pictured on History's of the Muse's page,
All knew the King, the Hero, set apart
To stand up stiff against calamity,

Breed courage amid a broken nation's groans,
Cherish the will in men about to die,
To chasten with just rule a barbarous tribe
And guard, at last the earth that kept his bones.
And still the Muse, who does not flatter or lie,
Finds for our age a symbol to describe.

The secret life of Technocratic Man,
Abject desire, base fear that shapes his law,
His idols of the cave, the mart, the sty -
No lion at bay for a beleaguered clan,
No eagle with the serpent in his claw,
Nor dragon soter with his searing eye,
But the great, greedy, parasitic worm,
Sucking the life of nations from within
Blind and degenerate, snug in excrement.
`Behold your dream!' she says. `View here the form
And mirror of Time, the Shape you trusted in
While your world crumbled and my heavens were rent.'

Advice to Young Ladies

A.U.C. 334 [1]: About this date
For a sexual misdemeanor, which she denied,
The vestal virgin [2] Postumia was tried.
Livy records it among affairs of state.

They let her off: it seems she was perfectly pure;
The charge arose because some thought her talk
Too witty for a young girl, her eyes, her walk
Too lively, her clothes too smart to be demure.

The Pontifex Maximus, summing up the case,
Warned her in future to abstain from jokes,
To wear less modish and more pious frocks.
She left the court reprieved, but in disgrace.

What then? With her the annalist is less
Concerned than what the men achieved that year:
Plots, quarrels, crimes, with oratory to spare!
I see Postumia with her dowdy dress,

Stiff mouth and listless step; I see her strive
To give dull answers. She had to knuckle down.
A vestal virgin who scandalized that town
Had fair trial, then they buried her alive.[3]

Alive, bricked up in suffocating dark,
A ration of bread, a pitcher if she was dry,
Preserved the body they did not wish to die
Until her mind was quenched to the last spark.

How many the black maw has swallowed in its time!
Spirited girls who would not know their place;
Talented girls who found that the disgrace
Of being a woman made genius a crime;

How many others, who would not kiss the rod[4]
Domestic bullying broke or public shame?
Pagan or Christian, it was much the same:
Husbands, St. Paul declared,[5] rank next to God.

Livy and Paul, it may be, never knew
That Rome was doomed; each spoke of her with pride.
Tacitus,[6] writing after both had died,
Showed that whole fabric rotten through and through.

Historians spend their lives and lavish ink
Explaining how great commonwealths collapse
From great defects of policy -- perhaps
The cause is sometimes simpler than they think.

It may not seem so grave an act to break
Postumia's spirit as Galileo's,[7] to gag
Hypatia as crush Socrates,[8] or drag
Joan as Giordano Bruno[9] to the stake.

Can we be sure? Have more states perished, then,
For having shackled the inquiring mind,
Than whose who, in their folly not less blind,
Trusted the servile womb to breed free men?

1. Ab Urbe Condita, `from the founding of the city' - Livy records the incident narrated in the first 3 stanzas.

2. Vestal virgins wer the young priestesses who tended the shrine of Vesta, goddess of the hearth.

3. For breaking her vows of chastity, a vestal virgin could be sentenced to be buried alive.

4. As the symbol of obedience and chastisement.

5. In Ephesians v.22: `Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.'

6. Roman historian who criticized the three Roman emporers who ruled from 68-69 In 1633, the Italian astronomer was forced by the Church to condemn his own scientific conclusions and was for a time imprisoned

7. In 399bc. Socrates was sentenced to die by poison on account of his supposedly subversive teachings. Hypatia as a lady of Alexandria, Egypt, noted for her learning and beauty; she was murdered in 415 ad. allegedly at the behest of an archbishop.

8. Both were burned at the stake, Joan of Arc in 1431 for heresy and sorcery, Bruno in 1600 for theological and scientific heresies.

The Gateway

Now the heart sings wtih all its thousand voices
To hear this city of cells, my body, sing.
The tree through the stiff clay at long last forces
Its thin strong roots and taps the secret spring.

And the sweet waters without intermission
Climb to the tips of its green tenement;
The breasts have borne the grace of their possession,
The lips have felt the pressure of content.

Here I come home: in this expected country
They know my name and speak it with delight.
I am the dream and you my gates of entry,
The means by which I waken into light.

The Elegy

Variations on a theme of the Seventeenth Century

Madam, no more! The time has come to eat.
The spirit of man is nourished, too, with meat.
Those heroes and the warriors of old--
Feasting between their battles made them bold.
When Venus in the west hung out her lamp,
The rattling sons of Mars marched home to camp;
And while around the fires their wounds were dressed,
And tale was matched with tale, and jest with jest,
Flagons of wine and oxen roasted whole
Refreshed their bodies and restored the soul.

Come, leave the bed; put on your dress; efface
Awhile this dazzling armoury of grace!
Flushed and rejoiced from the well-fought fight
Now day lies panting in the arms of night;
The first dews tremble on the darkening field;
Put up your naked weapons, the bright shield
Of triumph glinting to the early stars;
Call our troops home with trumpets from their wars;
And, as wise generals, let them rest and dine
And celebrate our truce with meat and wine.
See, the meek table on our service waits;
The devil in crystal winks besides our plates;
These veterans of love's war we shall replay
And crown with feasts the glories of the day.

Think no disgrace, if now they play a part
Less worthy of the soldiers of the heart.
Thought these we led were granted, even as we,
Their moments draught of immortality,
We do but snatch our instant on the height
And in the valleys still live out the night.
Yet they surrender nothing which is theirs.
Nature is frugal in her ministers;
Each to some humbler office must return,
And so must we. Then grudge it not, but learn
In this the noble irony of kind:
These fierce, quick hands that rove and clasp must find
Other employment now with knife and fork;
Our mouths that groaned with joy, now eat and talk;
These chief commanders, too, without debate,
Sink to the lowliest service of the state.
Only our eyes observe no armistice;
Sparkling with love's perpetual surprise,
Their bright vedettes keep watch from hill to hill
And when they meet, renew the combat still.
And yet to view you would I linger on:
This is the rarest moment, soonest gone.
While now the marching stars invest the sky
And the wide lands beneath surrendered lie,
Their streams and forests, parks and fields and farms,
Like this rich empire tranquil in my arms,
Seem lovelier in the last withdrawing light
And, as they vanish, most enchant the sight.
Still let me watch those countries as they fade
And all their lucid contours sink in shade;
The mounting thighs the line and of flank and breast,
Yet harbour a clear splendour from the west;
Though twilight draws into its shadowy reign
This breathing valley and that glimmering plain,
Still let my warrior heart with fresh delight
Rove and reflect: "Here, here began the fight;--
Between those gentle hills I paused to rest,
And on this vale the kiss of triumph pressed;
There, full encircled by the frantic foe,
I rode between the lilies and the show;
And, in this copse that parts the dark and shine,
Plundered the treasures of the hidden mine;
Down those long slopes in slow retreat I drew;
And here renewed the charge; and here, anew
Met stroke with stroke and touched, at the least breath,
The unimagined ecstasy of death."

Full darkness! Time enough the lamps were lit.
Let us to dinner, Madam; wine and wit
Must have hour, even as love and war,
And what's to come revives what when before.
Come now, for the Captain of my lust,
He had so stoutly fought and stiffly thrust,
Fallen, diminished on the field he lies;
Cover his face, he dreams in paradise.
We, while he sleeps, shall dine; and, when that's done,
Drink to his resurrection later on.

Prometheus Unbound

Still fettered, still unconquered, still in pain.
Bold in his hope and steadfast in his right,
The Friend of Man on the Caucasian height
Saw one vast flash to northward blast the plain,
As Hermes, swooping down, struck off the chains
And raised him smiling, in that dazzling light,
"Does the old tyrant, then, repent his spite."
He asks, "Or has Zeus ceased at last to reign?"

"His wisdom is not mocked," the God replied
"Nor alters, nor repeals the great decree,
These are his words: Go, set the Titan free;
And let his torment be to wander wide
The ashes of mankind from sea to sea,
Judging that theft of fire from which they died!


When, darkly brooding on this Modern Age,
The journalist with his marketable woes
Fills up once more the inevitable page
Of fatuous, flatulent, Sunday-paper prose;

Whenever the green aesthete starts to whoop
With horror at the house not made with hands
And when from vacuum cleaners and tinned soup
Another pure theosophist demands

Rebirth in other, less industrial stars
Where huge towns thrust up in synthetic stone
And films and sleek miraculous motor cars
And celluloid and rubber are unknown;

When from his vegetable Sunday School
Emerges with the neatly maudlin phrase
Still one more Nature poet, to rant or drool
About the "Standardization of the Race";

I see, stooping among her orchard trees,
The old, sound Earth, gathering her windfalls in,
Broad in the hams and stiffening at the knees,
Pause and I see her grave malicious grin.

For there is no manufacturer competes
With her in the mass production of shapes and things.
Over and over she gathers and repeats
The cast of a face, a million butterfly wings.

She does not tire of the pattern of a rose.
Her oldest tricks still catch us with surprise.
She cannot recall how long ago she chose
The streamlined hulls of fish, the snail's long eyes,

Love, which still pours into its ancient mould
The lashing seed that grows to a man again,
From whom by the same processes unfold
Unending generations of living men.

She has standardized his ultimate needs and pains.
Lost tribes in a lost language mutter in
His dreams: his science is tethered to their brains,
His guilt merely repeats Original Sin.

And beauty standing motionless before
Her mirror sees behind her, mile on mile,
A long queue in an unknown corridor,
Anonymous faces plastered with her smile.

Easter Hymn

Make no mistake; there will be no forgiveness;
No voice can harm you and no hand will save;
Fenced by the magic of deliberate darkness
You walk on the sharp edges of the wave;

Trouble with soul again the putrefaction
Where Lazarus three days rotten lies content.
Your human tears will be the seed of faction
Murder the sequel to your sacrament.

The City of God is built like other cities:
Judas negotiates the loans you float;
You will meet Caiaphas upon committees;
You will be glad of Pilate's casting vote.

Your truest lovers still the foolish virgins,
Your heart will sicken at the marriage feasts
Knowing they watch you from the darkened gardens
Being polite to your official guests.

Six Songs for Chloe

Going to Bed

Chloe, let down that chestnut hair;
Let it flow full; let it fall free;
Loosen that zone, those clasps that bare
Your breasts: then leave the rest to me.

First like a cloud your dress shall float
Over your shoulders and away;
And next the faithless petticoat
Those exquisite, breathing flanks display;

Stockings and drawers I shall peel off
From your lithe legs and lovely thighs,
And think the rustling silks you slough
The foam from which, new-born, you rise.

Thus Love in mime despoils this world:
Fashions, beliefs and customs fall;
In brutal, naked grace unfurled
He shows the root and ground of all.

But when his power has stripped us stark,
These purged and primal selves shall find
A better and a brighter mark
Than those poor ventures of mankind;

For we whose fate is to retrace
The labyrinth and re-wind the clew,
All patterns of the past erase
And find our world begins anew.

Our nature then puts off, my dear,
What parts it from the true divine:
Bare as the gods we must appear
And as those blessed beings shine.

A single, soaring flame shall bound,
Frame and enfold our nakedness;
And with that glory clothed and crowned
Our souls shall want no other dress.

No roof can shelter us, no house
That falls to ruin as fabrics must;
No crumbling temple hear our vows
Or sanction that immortal lust.

Our bed must be the bracken brown
Or the waste dunes beside the sea,
And the wide heaven arching down
Our portion of eternity.

The Lamp

Night and the sea; the firelight glowing;
We sit in silence by the hearth;
I musing, you beside me sewing,
We glean the long day's aftermath.

After the romping surf, the laughter,
The salt and sun, the roaring beach,
These flames glancing on wall and rafter
Are tongues of pentecostal speech.

And while their whispers come and go, I
Turn to watch you in your grace,
My gallant, radiant, reckless Chloe,
Who love and lead me such a chase,

To find it vanished, that incessant
Fulfilment of the urgent Now:
For here, absolved from past and present,
There broods a girl I do not know.

The clear, the gay, the brilliant nature
Matching your body's pride, gives place
To a soft, wavering change of feature:
This grave, remote and troubled face;

A face all women have in common
When, lost within them'selves, alone,
They hear the demiourgos summon
And draw their ocean like the moon.

The moon is up; the beaches glisten,
The land grows faceless as the sea;
And you withdraw and, while you listen,
Put on your anonymity.

I hear my pulses, as they travel,
Drop one by one to the abyss;
I feel the skein of life unravel
And ask in dread: who then is this ?

Who is this shade that sits beside me
And on what errand has she come:
To drive me on the dark, or guide me,
To tempt, or bring my spirit home ?

Or is she lost herself, uncertain
And helpless on that timeless track ?
Whichever way, I draw the curtain
And light the lamp that brings us back.


At noon the paper tigers roar   -- Miroslav Holub

The paper tigers roar at noon;
The sun is hot, the sun is high.
They roar in chorus, not in tune,
Their plaintive, savage hunting cry.

O, when you hear them, stop your ears
And clench your lids and bite your tongue.
The harmless paper tiger bears
Strong fascination for the young.

His forest is the busy street;
His dens the forum and the mart;
He drinks no blood, he tastes no meat:
He riddles and corrupts the heart.

But when the dusk begins to creep
From tree to tree, from door to door,
The jungle tiger wakes from sleep
And utters his authentic roar.

It bursts the night and shakes the stars
Till one breaks blazing from the sky;
Then listen! If to meet it soars
Your heart's reverberating cry,

My child, then put aside your fear:
Unbar the door and walk outside!
The real tiger waits you there;
His golden eyes shall be your guide.

And, should he spare you in his wrath,
The world and all the worlds are yours;
And should he leap the jungle path
And clasp you with his bloody jaws,

Then say, as his divine embrace
Destroys the mortal parts of you:
I too am of that royal race
Who do what we are born to do.


This was the gods' god,
The leashed divinity,
Divine divining rod
And Me within the me.

By mindlight tower and tree
Its shadow on the ground
Throw, and in darkness she
Whose weapon is her wound

Fends off the knife, the sword,
The Tiger and the Snake;
It stalks the virgin's bed
And bites her wide awake.

Her Bab-el-Mandeb waits
Her Red Sea gate of tears:
The blood-sponge god dilates,
His rigid pomp appears;

Sets in the toothless mouth
A tongue of prophecy.
It speaks in naked Truth
Indifference for me

Love, a romantic slime
That lubricates his way
Against the stream of Time.
And though I win the day

His garrisons deep down
Ignore my victory,
Abandon this doomed town,
Crawl through a sewer and flee.

A certain triumph, of course,
Bribes me with brief joy:
Stiffly my Wooden Horse
Receive into your Troy.

Morning Coffee

Reading the menu at the morning service:
- Iced Venusberg perhaps, or buttered bum -
Orders the usual sex-ersatz, and, nervous,
Glances around - Will she or won't she come?

The congregation dissected into pews
Gulping their strip teas in the luminous cavern
Agape's sacamental berry stews;
The nickel-plated light and clatter of heaven

Receive him, temporary Tantalus
Into the Lookingglassland's firescape.
Suckled on Jungfraumilch his eyes discuss,
The werwolf twins, their mock Sabellian rape.

This is their time to reap the standing scorn,
Blonde Rumina's crop. Beneath her leafless tree
Ripe-rumped she lolls and clasps the plenteous horn.
Cool customers who defy his Trinity

Feel none the less, and thrill, ur-vater Fear
Caged in the son. For, though this ghost behave
Experienced daughters recognize King Leer:
Lot also had his daughters in a cave.

Full sail the proud three-decker sandwiches
With the eye-fumbled priestesses repass;
On their swan lake the enchanted icecreams freeze,
The amorous fountain prickles in the glass

And at the introit of this mass emotion
She comes, she comes, a balanced pillar of blood,
Guides through the desert, divides the sterile ocean,
Brings sceptic Didymus his berserk food,

Sits deftly, folding elegant thighs, and takes
Her time. She skins her little leather hands,
Conscious that wavering towards her like tame snakes
The polyp eyes converge.... The prophet stands

Dreading the answer from her burning bush:
This unconsuming flame, the outlaw's blow,
Plague, exodus, Sinai, ruptured stones that gush,
God's telegram: Dare Now! Let this people go!

The Gateway

Now the heart sings with all its thousand voices
To hear this city of cells, my body, sing.
The tree through the stiff clay at long last forces
Its thin strong roots and taps the secret spring.

And the sweet waters without intermission
Climb to the tips of its green tenement;
The breasts have borne the grace of their possession,
The lips have felt the pressure of content.

Here I come home: in this expected country
They know my name and speak it with delight.
I am the dream and you my gates of entry,
The means by which I waken into light.

The School of Night

What did I study in your School of Night?
When your mouth's first unfathomable yes
Opened your body to be my book, I read
My answers there and learned the spell aright,
Yet, though I searched and searched, could never guess
What spirits it raised nor where their questions led.

Those others, familiar tenants of your sleep,
The whisperers, the grave somnambulists
Whose eyes turn in to scrutinize their woe,
The giant who broods above the nightmare steep,
That sleeping girl, shuddering, with clenched fists,
A vampire baby suckling at her toe,

They taught me most. The scholar held his pen
And watched his blood drip thickly on the page
To form a text in unknown characters
Which, as I scanned them, changed and changed again:
The lines grew bars, the bars a Delphic cage
And I the captive of his magic verse.

Observation Car

To be put on the train and kissed and given my ticket,
Then the station slid backward, the shops and the neon lighting,
Reeling off in a drunken blur, with a whole pound note in my pocket
And the holiday packed with Perhaps. It used to be very exciting.

The present and past were enough. I did not mind having my back
To the engine. I sat like a spider and spun
Time backward out of my guts - or rather my eyes - and the track
Was a Now dwindling off to oblivion. I thought it was fun:

The telegraph poles slithered up in a sudden crescendo
As we sliced the hill and scattered its grazing sheep;
The days were a wheeling delirium that led without end to
Nights when we plunged into roaring tunnels of sleep.

But now I am tired of the train. I have learned that one tree
Is much like another, one hill the dead spit of the next
I have seen tailing off behind all the various types of country
Like a clock running down. I am bored and a little perplexed;

And weak with the effort of endless evacuation
Of the long monotonous Now, the repetitive, tidy
Officialdom of each siding, of each little station
Labelled Monday, Tuesday - and goodness ! what happened to - Friday ?

And the maddening way the other passengers alter:
The schoolgirl who goes to the Ladies' comes back to her seat
A lollipop blonde who leads you on to assault her,
And you've just got her skirts round her waist and her pants round her feet

When you find yourself fumbling about the nightmare knees
Of a pink hippopotamus with a permanent wave
Who sends you for sandwiches and a couple of teas,
But by then she has whiskers, no teeth and one foot in the grave.

I have lost my faith that the ticket tells where we are going.
There are rumours the driver is mad - we are all being trucked
To the abattoirs somewhere - the signals are jammed and unknowing
We aim through the night full speed at a wrecked viaduct.

But I do not believe them. The future is rumour and drivel;
Only the past is assured. From the observation car
I stand looking back and watching the landscape shrivel,
Wondering where we are going and just where the hell we are,

Remembering how I planned to break the journey, to drive
My own car one day, to have choice in my hands and my foot upon power,
To see through the trumpet throat of vertiginous perspective
My urgent Now explode continually into flower,

To be the Eater of Time, a poet and not that sly
Anus of mind the historian. It was so simple and plain
To live by the sole, insatiable influx of the eye.
But something went wrong with the plan: I am still on the train.

Crossing The Frontier

Crossing the frontier they were stopped in time,
Told, quite politely, they would have to wait:
Passports in order, nothing to declare
And surely holding hands was not a crime
Until they saw how, ranged across the gate,
All their most formidable friends were there.

Wearing his conscience like a crucifix,
Her father, rampant, nursed the Family Shame;
And, armed wlth their old-fashioned dinner-gong,
His aunt, who even when they both were six,
Had just to glance towards a childish game
To make them feel that they were doing wrong.

And both their mothers, simply weeping floods,
Her head-mistress, his boss, the parish priest,
And the bank manager who cashed their cheques;
The man who sold him his first rubber-goods;
Dog Fido, from whose love-life, shameless beast,
She first observed the basic facts of sex.

They looked as though they had stood there for hours;
For years - perhaps for ever. In the trees
Two furtive birds stopped courting and flew off;
While in the grass beside the road the flowers
Kept up their guilty traffic with the bees.
Nobody stirred. Nobody risked a cough.

Nobody spoke. The minutes ticked away;
The dog scratched idly. Then, as parson bent
And whispered to a guard who hurried in,
The customs-house loudspeakers with a bray
Of raucous and triumphant argument
Broke out the wedding march from Lohengrin.

He switched the engine off: "We must turn back."
She heard his voice break, though he had to shout
Against a din that made their senses reel,
And felt his hand, so tense in hers, go slack.
But suddenly she laughed and said: "Get out!
Change seats! Be quick!" and slid behind the wheel.

And drove the car straight at them with a harsh,
Dry crunch that showered both with scraps and chips,
Drove through them; barriers rising let them pass
Drove through and on and on, with Dad's moustache
Beside her twitching still round waxen lips
And Mother's tears still streaming down the glass.


I sing of the decline of Henry Clay
Who loved a white girl of uncommon size.
Although a small man in a little way,
He had in him some seed of enterprise.

Each day he caught the seven-thirty train
To work, watered his garden after tea,
Took an umbrella if it looked like rain
And was remarkably like you or me.

He had his hair cut once a fortnight, tried
Not to forget the birthday of his wife,
And might have lived unnoticed till he died
Had not ambition entered Henry's life.

He met her in the lounge of an hotel -
A most unusual place for him to go -
But there he was and there she was as well
Sitting alone. He ordered beers for two.

She was so large a girl that when they came
He gave the waiter twice the usual tip.
She smiled without surprise, told him her name,
And as the name trembled on Henry's lip,

His parched soul, swelling like a desert root,
Broke out its delicate dream upon the air;
The mountains shook with earthquake under foot;
An angel seized him suddenly by the hair;

The sky was shrill with peril as he passed;
A hurricane crushed his senses with its din;
The wildfire crackled up his reeling mast;
The trumpet of a maelstrom sucked hirn in;

The desert shrivelled and burnt off his feet;
His bones and buttons an enormous snake
Vomited up; still in the shimmering heat
The pygmies showed him their forbidden lake

And then transfixed him with their poison darts;
He married six black virgins in a bunch,
Who, when they had drawn out his manly parts,
Stewed him and ate him lovingly for lunch.

Adventure opened wide its grisly jaws;
Henry looked in and knew the Hero's doom.
The huge white girl drank on without a pause
And, just at closing time, she asked him home.

The tram they took was full of Roaring Boys
Announcing the world's ruin and Judgment Day;
The sky blared with its grand orchestral voice
The Gotterdammerung of Henry Clay.

But in her quiet room they were alone.
There, towering over Henry by a head,
She stood and took her clothes off one by one,
And then she stretched herself upon the bed.

Her bulk of beauty, her stupendous grace
Challenged the lion heart in his puny dust.
Proudly his Moment looked him in the face:
He rose to meet it as a hero must;

Climbed the white mountain of unravished snow,
Planted his tiny flag upon the peak.
The smooth drifts, scarcely breathing, lay below.
She did not take the trouble to smile or speak.

And afterwards, it may have been in play,
The enormous girl rolled over and squashed him flat;
And, as she could not send him home that way,
Used him thereafter as a bedside mat.

Speaking at large, I will say this of her:
She did not spare expense to make him nice.
Tanned on both sides and neatly edged with fur,
The job would have been cheap at any price.

And when, in winter, getting out of bed,
Her large soft feet pressed warmly on the skin,
The two glass eyes would sparkle in his head,
The jaws extend their papier-mache grin.

Good people, for the soul of Henry Clay
Offer your prayers, and view his destiny!
He was the Hero of our Time. He may
With any luck, one day, be you or me. Commination

A Commination

He that is filthy let him be filthy still.
REV. 22.11

Like John on Patmos, brooding on the Four
Last Things, I meditate the ruin of friends
Whose loss, Lord,  brings this grand new curse to mind
Now send me foes worth cursing, or send more
- Since means should be proportionate to ends -
For mine are few and of the piddling kind:

Drivellers, snivellers, writers of bad verse,
Backbiting bitches, snipers from a pew,
Small turds from the great arse of self-esteem;
On such as these I would not waste my curse.
God send me soon the enemy or two
Fit for the wrath of God, of whom I dream:

Some Caliban of Culture, some absurd
Messiah of the Paranoiac State,
Some Educator wallowing in his slime,
Some Prophet of the Uncreating Word
Monsters a man might reasonably hate,
Masters of Progress, Leaders of our Time;

But chiefly the Suborners: Common Tout
And Punk, the Advertiser, him I mean
And his smooth hatchet-man, the Technocrat.
Them let my malediction single out,
These modern Dives with their talking screen
Who lick the sores of Lazarus and grow fat,

Licensed to pimp, solicit and procure
Here in my house, to foul my feast, to bawl
Their wares while I am talking with my friend,
To pour into my ears a public sewer
Of all the Strumpet Muses sell and all
That prostituted science has to vend.

In this great Sodom of a world, which turns
The treasure of the Intellect to dust
And every gift to some perverted use,
What wonder if the human spirit learns
Recourses of despair or of disgust,
Abortion, suicide and self-abuse.

But let me laugh, Lord; let me crack and strain
The belly of this derision till it burst;
For I have seen too much, have lived too long
A citizen of Sodom to refrain,
And in the stye of Science, from the first,
Have watched the pearls of Circe drop on dung.

Let me not curse my children, nor in rage
Mock at the just, the helpless and the poor,
Foot-fast in Sodom's rat-trap; make me bold
To turn on the Despoilers all their age
Invents: damnations never felt before
And hells more horrible than hot and cold.

And, since in Heaven creatures purified
Rational, free, perfected in their kinds
Contemplate God and see Him face to face
In Hell, for sure, spirits transmogrified,
Paralysed wills and parasitic minds
Mirror their own corruption and disgrace.

Now let this curse fall on my enemies
My enemies, Lord, but all mankind's as well
Prophets and panders of their golden calf;
Let Justice fit them all in their degrees;
Let them, still living, know that state of hell,
And let me see them perish, Lord, and laugh.

Let them be glued to television screens
Till their minds fester and the trash they see
Worm their dry hearts away to crackling shells;
Let ends be so revenged upon their means
That all that once was human grows to be
A flaccid mass of phototropic cells;

Let the dog love his vomit still, the swine
Squelch in the slough; and let their only speech
Be Babel; let the specious lies they bred
Taste on their tongues like intellectual wine
Let sung commercials surfeit them, till each
Goggles with nausea in his nauseous bed.

And, lest with them I learn to gibber and gloat,
Lead me, for Sodom is my city still,
To seek those hills in which the heart finds ease;
Give Lot his leave; let Noah build his boat,
And me and mine, when each has laughed his fill,
View thy damnation and depart in peace.

Death of the Bird

For every bird there is this last migration;
Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;
With a warm passage to the summer station
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.

Year after year a speck on the map, divided
By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come;
Season after season, sure and safely guided,
Going away she is also coming home.

And being home, memory becomes a passion
With which she feeds her brood and straws her nest,
Aware of ghosts that haunt the heart's possession
And exiled love mourning within the breast.

The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;
The palm tree casts a shadow not its own;
Down the long architrave of temple or palace
Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone.

And day by day the whisper of love grows stronger;
That delicate voice, more urgent with despair,
Custom and fear constraining her no longer,
Drives her at last on the waste leagues of air.

A vanishing speck in those inane dominions,
Single and frail, uncertain of her place,
Alone in the bright host of her companions,
Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space.

She feels it close now, the appointed season;
The invisible thread is broken as she flies;
Suddenly, without warning, without reason,
The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.

Try as she will, the trackless world delivers
No way, the wilderness of light no sign;
Immense,complex contours of hills and rivers
Mock her small wisdom with their vast design.

The darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.


A Nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey
In the field uniform of modern wars,
Darkens her hills, those endless, outstretched paws
Of Sphinx demolished or stone lion worn away.

They call her a young country, but they lie:
She is the last of lands, the emptiest,
A woman beyond her change of life, a breast
Still tender but within the womb is dry.

Without songs, architecture, history:
The emotions and superstitions of younger lands,
Her rivers of water drown among inland sands,
The river of her immense stupidity

Floods her monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth.
In them at last the ultimate men arrive
Whose boast is not: "we live" but "we survive",
A type who will inhabit the dying earth.

And her five cities, like five teeming sores,
Each drains her: a vast parasite robber-state
Where second hand Europeans pullulate
Timidly on the edge of alien shores.

Yet there are some like me turn gladly home
From the lush jungle of modern thought, to find
The Arabian desert of the human mind,
Hoping, if still from the deserts the prophets come,

Such savage and scarlet as no green hills dare
Springs in that waste, some spirit which escapes
The learned doubt, the chatter of cultured apes
Which is called civilization over there.