For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious

Sunday, 24 March 2019

To a Modern Girl

I wrote this poem To a Modern Girl eleven years ago in my late 20s, as a private joke in an e-mail. A friend had suggested to me in a wonderful piece of spontaneous alliteration that men want a girl to be model, minx, muse & matron all at once. This poem was my reply to him. Since I am posting a few poems here I thought I would dig this out and was surprised to find that I still had it stored in my sent mail box.

Girl, Woman yet lissom-limbed, bring home the long,
The dark ripe fruit, the low hung apples of posterity,
In the volum'nous skirts of femininity.  In one be divers.
Be model, stalk out repulsing all possession, pulsing hauteur,
O leopardess, concede no wanton curve in your spartan geometry,
Unless an arch look soon pulled taut.  But stop not there.
Be muse, dight too the fashion of an ancient age, up-gather
Softer tresses, that your bright Beàtrician head may kneel
O'er lyre, and gentler lips pierce by clean flightéd notes
From their enamell'd chastity: and of me worshipped be.
But be elder yet.  Before a damsel of Apollo, you were in the streets,
A minx.  Let loose hair teasing kiss brown shoulder (the artlessly
Half-naked one), and o'er it, in a glance, show you would ease
An ache fore night: then (curse you) twist that lithe body, play
A pouting game, and make us wait all day.  But lest I weary
Of all these: be eldest of them all, primaeval Eve, a matron be.
Hands beautiful from labour; as Dian many-breasted; thy womb
Like Nature's teeming.  I to thee by Mother Earth of our one clay
Bound, thou to me by fast oaths fastened on heaven's floor
Bound, in one creaking well-worn bed, a comfortable hearth,
And daily bread.  So - be a Gucci model, slave-girl Fotis be,
And fair Mnemosyne.  But more be Rachel, Leah and
O most! Penelope.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Ombra e Mistero

This is a poem called Ombra e Mistero by the Italian poet, artist and literary critic Luigi Cerantola: below is my attempt at translation.

San'Agata, quel piatto in che tu reggi
le gemmanti bella - candidi scogli,
e cupida sirena a sortilegi
che ai naviganti sfrondano li orgogli

ma chi l'occhio sospinge oltre i rigogli
della carne del senso, altri vagheggi
scopre nel mite vespro e nei vergini
silenzi del crepuscolo, sui colli

quetando la sua guerra in discoloro
di luce e tempo, via dall'ora ignota
sospesa sulla torre, entro il cipresso

ombra e mistero - lontananza immola
forse di paradisi, e nimbo d'oro
raggiante a noi l'illimite riflesso.

Saint Agatha, that platter where the buds
gem-bright thou lift'st, white reef-rocks, lovely Girl
(she, sea-siren insatiable, chants such spells
to shred the sailors’ every yard of pride,

Yet he whose eye prevents luxuriance
of fleshly lusts, in cool of the day's eve,
and the dusk’s falling virgin silences,
finds there diverse desires; upon the hills

His strife sinks quiet in the ebbing hue
of light and time, beyond the hour unknown
pendent on the tower, within the cypress

Shade and mystery), that offer up from far;
mayhap thy aureole or celeste spheres' light
mirrored may strike on us immeasurable.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

L'Epifania (II)

The city’s neon sheen left marrow-cold
These bones, wandering, chill-numbed, years lost down
Paths from fabled youth’s jewelled east. For, not old,
My spring drab autumn turned, prime's purpose drowned.

Glib priests professional heaven's way advised,
An end, indoors, they stirred not to pursue.
My face turned to night's road. I saw arise
Love’s star – unsought, almost forgotten. I viewed,

Then knelt and wept, removed the tinfoil crown
Of all I thought to be. Close have I found
Flesh full of God, girl holding mastery,
All my hope and desire soft on her knee.

Write gold, lead pencil; fume, spirit's incense-grains;
Enounce her myrrh-balm pulsing wine-sweet my veins.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

L'Epifania (I)

Her light: never have I known light like this.
Six thousand suns and lamps and moons that bend
Wave streams round bodies, cities, vistas; lend
The wide coloured mirror visual bliss,

Hang themselves separate. But here within
Her bright cloud-glory quakes the holy place,
Dense in her look, air, movement, clothes, hair, face,
Cloud that I stand in, cloud me indwelling,

Cloud where my eye and mind and blood are light,
Dark-rending syllable, fiat God-sung.
Love's liquid lark-ascent hailing her dawn,
Chant clear washing the pages of the night:

This scribbled writ, light, veiled eternity,
Transfigure radiant to her epiphany.

Monday, 4 March 2019

La Vita Rinata (II)

Love’s form, virgin-conceived, in mind’s wordless
Womb swollen, joy close-confined shamefaced lest
Judged profane the bright herald’s swift advent
In flesh and blood, nor flesh nor blood’s descent.

Things germane leap to hear my voice, pregnant
Its timbre with meek mild magnificence,
Possessed of a burden, that weariness
Of the lead world makes light of. Wyrd-driven, sent

Without men’s wall, I scarcely know or care -
For love, a pain-expected birth, is borne
In shower of gold, and without travail, there
I look upon a God of glory shorn.

This pen’s a sword that severs with a smart
And pierces sore love’s bearer to the heart.

L'Ascensione (II)