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New Poems
July/August 2010

 

SEI MADRIGALI

1

Is it not strange that thou shouldst weep? So gravid
The sweetest song a burdening: the six
Metamorphoses, of violence and sex,
The sensuous oboe touched by sensual Ovid. 

Pan pipes, the syrinx, the Orphic lyre;
The waters of the mere, reedy and full;
Poignant the false-relationed madrigal;
The hunter poised, the watcher with the lure. 

2

The heron's flight out of the reeds is laggard
Yet still it climbs. You could have watched its slow
Navigation of the risen dawn,
Its neck drawn back, prehensilely long-legged,

But you were probably asleep, and I 
Display too late my early grief. Too late
Pinions of holding lift and agitate.
The heron crests its high-reared heronry. 

3

This keeping of delight makes to its strath.
As we must know it, the perturbèd moon
Which is the singular being and yet none
And of the sexual will its grief its graith,

Suffuses, broadens, rouses to subside.
Sometimes the archaic and reflective swan
Ploughs through its image before setting down.
The river-margins thrum with each new tide.

4

So, solace without respite, as when, cour-
Sing through the ear, Italian lute-songs
With preciosities pluck at the heart-strings,
Thy studied dissonance, crudel Amor.

Caccini's Amarilli I would play
At school assemblies, a warped seventy-eight
Bucking the needle, churning sweet disquiet.
Our loves are dying, we have had our day. 

5

What would I have us do, enshrine Sosostris'
Aria from that fey Midsummer Marriage,
Joyous transcendent threnos before mere age,
All-mastering strings quelling things queer, disastrous?

Somewhere within the extravagant gauche plot
Is our true-plight, misfathomed, salutation.
If we should labour back against time's motion
Still distant are those lovers we were not. 

6

What I have so invoked for us is true
As invocation. The Fibonacci range
Of numbers is a constant, like Stonehenge. 
Like Ovid's book of changes to construe. 

I can see someone walking there, a girl,
And she is you, old love. Edging the meadow
The may-tree is all light and all shadow. 
Coming and going are the things eternal. 

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