I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.
The convenience of the high trees!
The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray
Are of advantage to me;
And the earth's face upward for my inspection.
My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each feather:
Now I hold Creation in my foot
Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly -
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads -
The allotment of death.
For the one path of my flight is direct
Through the bones of the living.
No arguments assert my right:
The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.
Examination at the Womb-Door
Who owns those scrawny little feet? Death.
Who owns this bristly scorched-looking face? Death.
Who owns these still-working lungs? Death.
Who owns this utility coat of muscles? Death.
Who owns these unspeakable guts? Death.
Who owns these questionable brains? Death.
All this messy blood? Death.
These minimum-efficiency eyes? Death.
This wicked little tongue? Death.
This occasional wakefulness? Death.
Given, stolen, or held pending trial?
Who owns the whole rainy, stony earth? Death.
Who owns all of space? Death.
Who is stronger than hope? Death.
Who is stronger than the will? Death.
Stronger than love? Death.
Stronger than life? Death.
But who is stronger than Death?
The tractor stands frozen - an agony
To think of. All night
Snow packed its open entrails. Now a head-pincering gale,
A spill of molten ice, smoking snow,
Pours into its steel.
At white heat of numbness it stands
In the aimed hosing of ground-level fieriness.
It defied flesh and won't start.
Hands are like wounds already
Inside armour gloves, and feet are unbelievable
As if the toe-nails were all just torn off.
I stare at it in hatred. Beyond it
The copse hisses - capitulates miserably
In the fleeing, failing light. Starlings,
A dirtier sleetier snow, blow smokily, unendingly, over
Towards plantations Eastward.
All the time the tractor is sinking
Through the degrees, deepening
Into its hell of ice.
The starting lever
Cracks its action, like a snapping knuckle.
The battery is alive - but like a lamb
Trying to nudge its solid-frozen mother -
While the seat claims my buttock-bones, bites
With the space-cold of earth, which it has joined
In one solid lump.
I squirt commercial sure-fire
Down the black throat - it just coughs.
It ridicules me - a trap of iron stupidity
I've stepped into. I drive the battery
As if I were hammering and hammering
The frozen arrangement to pieces with a hammer
And it jabbers laughing pain-crying mockingly
Into happy life.
Shuddering itself full of heat, seeming to enlarge slowly
Like a demon demonstrating
A more-than-usually-complete materialization -
Suddenly it jerks from its solidarity
With the concrete, and lurches towards a stanchion
Bursting with superhuman well-being and abandon
Shouting Where Where?
Worse iron is waiting. Power-lift kneels
Levers awake imprisoned deadweight,
Shackle-pins bedded in cast-iron cow-****.
The blind and vibrating condemned obedience
Of iron to the cruelty of iron,
Wheels screeched out of their night-locks -
Among the tormented
Tonnage and burning of iron
Weeping in the wind of chloroform
And the tractor, streaming with sweat,
Raging and trembling and rejoicing.
Bride and Groom Lie Hidden for Three Days
She gives him his eyes, she found them
Among some rubble, among some beetles
He gives her her skin
He just seemed to pull it down out of the air and lay it over her
She weeps with fearfulness and astonishment
She has found his hands for him, and fitted them freshly at the wrists
They are amazed at themselves, they go feeling all over her
He has assembled her spine, he cleaned each piece carefully
And sets them in perfect order
A superhuman puzzle but he is inspired
She leans back twisting this way and that, using it and laughing
Now she has brought his feet, she is connecting them
So that his whole body lights up
And he has fashioned her new hips
With all fittings complete and with newly wound coils, all shiningly oiled
He is polishing every part, he himself can hardly believe it
They keep taking each other to the sun, they find they can easily
To test each new thing at each new step
And now she smoothes over him the plates of his skull
So that the joints are invisible
And now he connects her throat, her breasts and the pit of her stomach
With a single wire
She gives him his teeth, tying the the roots to the centrepin of his body
He sets the little circlets on her fingertips
She stitches his body here and there with steely purple silk
He oils the delicate cogs of her mouth
She inlays with deep cut scrolls the nape of his neck
He sinks into place the inside of her thighs
So, gasping with joy, with cries of wonderment
Like two gods of mud
Sprawling in the dirt, but with infinite care
They bring each other to perfection.
This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet
Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.
At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door. Once I looked up -
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope,
The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap;
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house
Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it. Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,
Or each other. We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the window tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.
He loved her and she loved him.
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
She wanted him complete inside her
Safe and sure forever and ever
Their little cries fluttered into the curtains
Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
He gripped her hard so that life
Should not drag her from that moment
He wanted all future to cease
He wanted to topple with his arms round her
Off that moment's brink and into nothing
Or everlasting or whatever there was
Her embrace was an immense press
To print him into her bones
His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace
Where the real world would never come
Her smiles were spider bites
So he would lie still till she felt hungry
His words were occupying armies
Her laughs were an assassin's attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
His glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
And their deep cries crawled over the floors
Like an animal dragging a great trap
His promises were the surgeon's gag
Her promises took the top off his skull
She would get a brooch made of it
His vows pulled out all her sinews
He showed her how to make a love-knot
Her vows put his eyes in formalin
At the back of her secret drawer
Their screams stuck in the wall
Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves
Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop
In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs
In their dreams their brains took each other hostage
In the morning they wore each other's face
To Paint A Water Lily
A green level of lily leaves
Roofs the pond's chamber and paves
The flies' furious arena: study
These, the two minds of this lady.
First observe the air's dragonfly
That eats meat, that bullets by
Or stands in space to take aim;
Others as dangerous comb the hum
Under the trees. There are battle-shouts
And death-cries everywhere hereabouts
But inaudible, so the eyes praise
To see the colours of these flies
Rainbow their arcs, spark, or settle
Cooling like beads of molten metal
Through the spectrum. Think what worse
is the pond-bed's matter of course;
Prehistoric bedragoned times
Crawl that darkness with Latin names,
Have evolved no improvements there,
Jaws for heads, the set stare,
Ignorant of age as of hour—
Now paint the long-necked lily-flower
Which, deep in both worlds, can be still
As a painting, trembling hardly at all
Though the dragonfly alight,
Whatever horror nudge her root.
The Child Is Father To The Man
'The child is father to the man.'
How can he be? The words are wild.
Suck any sense from that who can:
'The child is father to the man.'
No; what the poet dd write ran,
'The man is father to the child.'
'The child is father to the man!'
How can he be? The words are wild.
Glory be to God for dappled things -
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swinm;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for al this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs -
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Full Moon and Little Frieda
A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a buket -
And you listening.
A spider's web, tense for the dew's touch.
A pail lifted, still and brimming - mirror
To tempt a first star to a tremor.
Cows are going home in the lane there, looping the hedges with their warm
wreaths of breath -
A dark river of blood, many boulders,
Balancing unspilled milk.
'Moon!' you cry suddenly, 'Moon! Moon!'
The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work
That points at him amazed.
The mahogany table-to you smashed Had been the broad plank top Of my mother's heirloom sideboard- Mapped with the scars of my whole life.
That came under the hammer. That high stool you swung that day Demented by my being Twenty minutes late for baby-minding.
'Marvellous!' I shouted, 'Go on, Smash it into kindling. That's the stuff you're keeping out of your poems!' And later, considered and calmer,
'Get that shoulder under your stanzas And we'll be away.' Deep in the cave of your ear The goblin snapped his fingers. So what had I given him?
The bloody end of the skein That unravelled your marriage, Left your children echoing Like tunnels in a labyrinth.
Left your mother a dead-end, Brought you to the horned, bellowing Grave of your risen father And your own corpse in it.
Terrifying are the attent sleek thrushes on the lawn,
More coiled steel than living - a poised
Dark deadly eye, those delicate les
Triggered to stirrings beyond sense - with a start, a bounce, a stab
Overtake the instant and drag out some writhing thing.
No indolent procrastinations and no yawning states,
No sighs or head-scratchings. Nothing but bounce and stab
And a ravening second.
Is it their single-mind-sized skulls, or a trained
Body, or genius, or a nestful of brats
Gives their days this bullet and automatie
Purpose? Mozart's brain had it, and the shark's mouth
That hungers down the lood-smell even to a leak of its own
Side and evouring of itself: efficiency which
Strikes too streamlined for any doubt to pluck at it
Or obstruction deflect.
With a man it is otherwise. Heroisms on horseback,
Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk,
Carving at a tiny ivory ornament
For years: his act worships itslef - while for him,
Though he bends to be blent in the prayer, how loud and above what
Furious spaces of fire do the distracting devils
Orgy and hosannah, under what wilderness
Of black silent waters weep.