the poet (again)

I’m playing my song to the long stems

that dance at my window; the flowers that bend

like light on the depths of my loneliness.

 

I have lain on the cool stone of midnight

and risen to greet the light of morning.

I have slumpt by the window to long again

for the evening, a cool hand upon my skin.

 

I am still ill from interminable

midnights til dawn with nothing to fill

the hole when the pills have turned sour.

I harbor the bitterness still.

 

My audience is the silent witness;

the multiple faces, hushed in the violet greys

of an auditorium. They watch closely

as I mime my antics; verbalise

my grief, my gestures, my lunacies.

To the Spring I have hummed all Winter

an overture to my happy disposition.

 

*

I experience everything again; feel it

again, but better. The kiss in the first

flush of evening by the pool in Summer;

the acoustics of the corridor; madness in the cell.

I have waited at the bus station and I was blind

to a thousand faces that were not you.

 

I have lived for you, the walks in the Ligurian

gardens, the cool evenings, the gay laughter

between the high walls of houses. After supper

you can hear the ice clink against the glasses.

 

In the morning I sat outside the bar

in the Piazza smoking after coffee

in the sunshine, reading the sport in the paper.

At night again I walk the narrow lanes

between the crooked houses and dig the echo

of my heels, and the near-distant laughter.

 

My solitude is like a jewel.

 

*

Even on the grassy bank of the railway lines

shivering in my clothes under the wintry stars

of the desolate Parisian outskirt, I had a home

to go to. And in the gloom of the morning

I stood on the side of the road to catch the dying embers

of streetlights and headlights, and hitched a ride South.

 

I feel now for the adolescent kneeling in his room

looking out the window, or arms outstretched

across his bed, cut-up like a rag; and the old man

hurting with his secret love.

 

I love these long melancholy Summer evenings

on my knees smoking out the window

toward the tombstones, a white generic mass

at this distance. I know close-up the individual

corpses under stone, each with a name, two dates

and a tribute:

 

I was once like you.

 

I have walked there at night, paused and

heard nothing. I thought of the dreamless

heads, and the stillness in the air was so dense

and I felt alone.

 

*

 

I leant out to see the pale

city constellations. I thought of the Grecian

brothers that had named them; the Semite

Wanderers also traced those lines; and I thought

of the gods that banished them, as tribute

or punishment – for hubris, love of Man.

 

5-6 October 2015

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5 thoughts on “the poet (again)”

  1. Yes, I have it in both German and English, have always loved it, that line about the ‘laurels on his gtrave, but no-one remembers him!’ as I recall. Alwyas have found his poems simple, but wonderfully heart-felt, the more so for being simple, I think. In this one he quite ‘soared’, I thought.

  2. Thanks Peter. I got the hesse book out of the library again yesterday. The poems are simple and beautiful. Do you know that particular poem? The Poet?

  3. As Dean says, wonderful to read something longer from you, Marco. Ah, Hermann Hesse, I read everything of his I could in translation, and learned German so I could put my hands, so to speak, on the original text. That feeling of what the artist is pinned up against, the immensity of his or her task, the savour of moments, all here in your journey. ‘My solitude is like a jewel’, lovely image, in which things shine as we reflect.

  4. thanks Dean. Yes, I wrote this shortly after reading an English translation of Hermann Hesse’s poem, The Poet. Written in 1911.

  5. Hi Mark, great to read a longer narrative poem from you, and has to me the feel of the prose poems of the 19th and early 20th century, with the lonely poet I suppose, and his small, likely rented garret, and the verse with the old man hurting in his the punishment of his longings.

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