Poems Of Final Occasion
As many questions as answers
What is to start?
It is to have feet to start with.
What is to end?
It is to have nothing to start again with,
And not to wish.
What is to see?
It is to know in part.
What is to speak?
It is to add part to part
And make a whole
Of much or little.
What is to whisper?
It is to make soft
The greed of speaking faster
Than is substance for.
What is to cry out?
It is to make gigantic
Where speaking cannot last long.
What is to be?
It is to bear a name.
What is to die?
It is to be name only.
And what is to be born?
It is to choose the enemy self
To learn impossibility from.
And what is to have hope?
Is it to choose a god weaker than self,
And pray for compliments?
What is to ask?
It is to find an answer.
What is to answer?
Is it to find a question?
The judgement is prepared.
In every respect it is exact and just.
Then why no doom,
Why no deliverance?
The judgement is prepared,
It was prepared,
It never failed to be,
Should ever the rightful cause
Speak at the rightful bar:
A coincidence that has not yet astounded,
Or one so close that it did not astound—
And properly now afterwards
Runs on as now before.
And properly some in agitation go,
As if the very end were,
And some in dullard peace,
As if it ever had been,
And some in artfulness,
As if it had or had not,
Both and either, which or which.
And properly, however—
The judgement being fixed
In every multiplied respect,
And full in every separate article,
Though silent with unhurriedness
And disregard of lateness.
And do I ask,
How long this pain?
Do I not show myself in every way
To be happy in what most ravages?
When I have grown old in these delights,
Then usedness and not exclaiming
May well seem unenthusiasm.
But now, in what am I remiss?
Wherein do I prefer
The better to the worse?
I will tell you.
There is a passing fault in her:
To be mild in my very fury.
And ‘Beloved’ she is called,
And pain I hunt alone
While she hangs back to smile,
Letting flattery crowd her round—
As if I hunted insult not true love.
But how may I be hated
Unto true love’s all of me?
I will tell you.
The fury will grow into calm
As I grow into her
And, smiling always,
She looks serenely on their death-struggle,
Having looked serenely on mine.
Have no wide fears for Earth:
Its universal name is ‘Nowhere’.
If it is Earth to you, that is your secret.
The outer records leave off there,
And you may write it as it seems,
And as it seems, it is,
A seeming stillness
Amidst seeming speed.
Heavens unseen, or only seen,
Dark or bright space, unearthly space,
Is a time before Earth was
Froth which you inward move
Toward perfect now.
Almost the place it is not yet,
Potential here of everywhere—
Have no wide fears for it:
Its destiny is simple,
To be further what it will be.
Earth is your heart
Which has become your mind
But still beats ignorance
Of all it knows—
As miles deny the compact present
Whose self-mistrusting past they are.
Have no wide fears for Earth:
Destruction only on wide fears shall fall.
REGRET OF WAR WAYS
Can truth lose charm,
Can love turn back to history?
The faithful follow with sad eyes
The retreat of the old Enemy.
Peace tastes as if defeat
In those battle-fed mouths
Which long no other glut knew
Than banquets to the brave.
Vanished the hosts of lies
That by the gracious standard
They hotly persecuted
With righteous war wraths.
And, loyal to vexedness,
They fret away the sweetened light,
Mourning the bitterness and flash
As ghosts the living mourn.
All things that wake enjoy the sun—
All things but one—
All things except the sun—
The sun because the sun.
An observation of my girlhood.
I now speak less equivocally
And yet more guardedly.
All things that wake enjoy the sun—
All things but one—
All things except the sun—
The sun because
All things once sun were
Which more and more was
The pride that could not be
Except looked back on
By all things become
One, one and one
Unto death’s long precision.
All things that wake enjoy the sun.
All things remember not having been,
When waking was but sun to be,
And sleeping was but sun to be,
When life was life alone once—
Begun and done in one
Impossibility of being sun,
Death’s too proud enemy—
All things enjoy to watch
The pride that could not be,
The largeness against death—
All things enjoy to watch this
From death where life is
As lasting as it little is.
An observation of my—
What shall I call such patience
To look back on nature,
Having already looked enough
To know the sun it is which was,
And the sun again which was not,
By nights removed from days,
By nights and days, by souls
Like little suns away toward
Dreams of pride that could not be—
What shall I call such patience—
An observation of my agedness
Death’s long precision while
All things undo themselves
From sunhood, living glory
That never, never was—
Because the sun.
The reward of curiosity
In such as you are
(Statisticians of doubt)
Is increased cause for curiosity,
And the punishment thereof,
To be not a cat.
I shall inform you truthfully,
And you will hear philosophically,
And more words will be required,
And you shall have them.
There is no end of information
Where there is no end of intelligence
By which to comprehend
As through a stained-glass vision
The simple instantaneous light
Is gradual and shy as God.
That is, as much remains to be described
As you have ear for.
And you have not only a live ear
But an immortal mind.
Assuming by your finical attention
That you allow the whole and ask
A mere enumeration of parts,
I shall avoid all argument.
In the general thing, we agree,
In the particulars you are well-disposed.
I shall pay you the humane compliment
Of not beginning at the beginning—
Which is the procedure with cats,
That love to start with nothing
And start again of sudden ending.
May you be long in dying.
Is this not your wish?
THE WAY IT IS
It falls to an idiot to talk wisely.
It falls to a sot to wear beauty.
It falls to many to be blessed
In their shortcomings,
As to the common brute it falls
To see real miracles
And howl with irksome joy.
Many are the confusions that fall,
Many are the inspired ones.
Much is there indeed contrary,
Much is there indeed wonderful.
A most improbable one it takes
To tell what is so,
And the strangest creature of all
To be natural.
AND A DAY
The course of a day is never steady.
The hours experiment with pain and pleasure.
By bedtime all you know is giddiness.
But how long is a day?
Some say as long as love.
But love leaves off early,
Before to-morrow and death set in.
How long has day on day been?
Some say for ever.
But starting from when?
From no sooner than first when
Eyes opened far and saw not all—
From no later than last when
Was time for no more than a day,
A day of guessing:
How long is it permitted
So little done so much to call?
THE FATES AND THE MOTHERS
We, the befallen fates,
We are known and necessitous
To all but the children.
And to them we are words:
We are death, not befallen.
We are justice, not swift.
We are knowledge, not ominous.
And their mother is a meanwhile.
She teaches them the game Self,
How to spin out suspense
By a winner and a next game:
While we, the fates to befall,
Keep our same watch of nearness
To the children is given a mother,
To make them strong in days.
To the mother is given a dark spirit—
He brings the nights on.
From long time to long hell
Runs the story delaying
Death, the true story.
To the mother is given a lover—
Time gives the demon, Future.
But the father is the immediate
Angel of impatience.
Her very womb is a man,
And she but a meanwhile.
And the children are but a never.
And we are but the present
From which date back all deaths
To the past of all meanwhiles
An order of shortcoming
Rising toward an ebb
Like children agedly
But whose house or head
Or intimate or ruling presence?
Am I by a ticket of identity,
Like any other lifetime?
But suppose no house or head
Or actuality called mine?
Then am I by a broomstick
As when I rode and was not,
Unlike, any other lifetime.
The answer concerns you, I think,
Your prosperity, not mine.
When you could spare me but a broomstick,
You were but a poor world
That must grudge me even a broomstick.
Now you are bolder to possess yourselves,
And I am nearly what I am,
As nearly as I may be
In a generous world of others.
CYCLES OF STRANGENESS
When a tree falls
A tree only dies only.
When a rock crumbles
Rock only dies not only.
When a man dies
It is death indeed.
No further the change
From sea or tree
To rock or man
Who changes all to man
But may not man change.
Without death indeed.
For later than himself
Comes God which is not
Save as death tarries
Or as woman pities.
Think you this strange?
But think you not woman strange,
And strange as death indeed,
Stranger than God-you?
But to change to flies—
They which so prettily annoy
And with subdued regret
See themselves scarcely killed,
Scarcely alive, scarcely dead.
Or of moths, how if turned outdoors
Next morning with goodbye,
A gratitude beyond their will
Humanizes the unasked release,
And an emotion reels away.
Such insincere hysterias
Or terrorless philosophies
Show nature’s suave proficiency in man.
Have you not seen swallows
By the sea flash themselves
High and down more knowingly
Than even the hyperbolic air
Can render bird-veritable?
But suppose in that same sea
A man turns human-hearted
And—as an angel walking earth
In heavenly difference from once mortal gait
Might in a sudden doubt of self
Be man and instantly a corpse
Inhuman, nature’s meanest same—
Dives into languid foretime
To be connatural with fish:
That’s drowning, and a fish
A better man, gliding like man
Manwards, and with mournful fins,
Lest uncommemorated pass
The near-strange funerals of flies.
THE TIME BENEATH
In the premortuary tomb
Of ancient time—
Who does not lie there,
A mummy not yet born?
Who does not lie there,
Except mock-creatures in wild numbers
The upper air usurping
While the great dead still sleep?
But when the great dead at last live,
What are those deep worlds then?
When beauty rises from the blackened queens
And the lachrymatory vessels sparkle
With tears from unbound eyes
That grieve sincerely how they lay
They are the pit of future then,
Where cautious souls that never risked name
Lie down in ghastly triumph of will
And dream of grandeur never lost
To the ancient test of death.
While discovery is the fact,
Sea-skill and the way to find,
Flee, land, more inland,
Even to the devil’s bosom, loneliness.
Which cannot comfort,
But which cannot give a foreign name
Or make you other than desolate.
Yet be not undiscoverable,
Except where land seen is mere sailor’s fancy,
Not native strangeness.
For if you be a true unknown,
Discovery must fade into you
And the foreign name translate,
And the discoverer succeed the devil,
Even unto loneliness—
To comfort by it,
By it call you known.
SCORNFUL OR FOND INFINITY
Greater is to lesser
As many is to one—
Breaths of breath.
An infinity of lack describes
The indescribable moment of enough.
And this is not comparison,
Only a proved equality
Of much and little.
Nor even singleness
Impossible to sum,
Unless infinity but scorn is
Rather than to add up slowly
The one and one and one
That singleness of one makes millionish
Unless infinity is only time
And thinks the moment to outnumber
Which weightless keeps the scales
In such eternal balance of
Unnumbered one against
The moment upon moment that bears down,
In mathematical spite
Or fond amazement, the other way.
THE COURTESIES OF AUTHORSHIP
Now that you have read of,
You will want to see.
I can only take you to the spot
And let you not see.
Then you may choose freely
Between my book and your eye.
You will undoubtedly prefer your eye,
To not see for yourself.
I shall be delighted to withdraw my book
In favour of your however blind eye.
But I will not withdraw my book
In favour of any words of yours,
In favour of a time-tongued eloquence.
This may be yet an early hour for seeing,
But it is a late hour for telling of,
And I will not be indistinct
That the confounded may distribute
Confusion like a cheaper gold.
Not even the insensible shroud
Can money of such coining buy you.
Loud naked fools you’ll go to death,
Flying the rags of shamelessness
To advertise your faith in gifts.
You’ll call the same large wants,
And still the same large courtesies
Between the author and the reader
Shall perfectly adjudicate,
And the writing of the book suffice
To give to those who do not read
A thank-you for such proof of need.
Then follows a description
Of an interval called death
By the living.
But I shall speak of it
As of brief illness.
For it lasted only
From being not ill
To being not ill.
It came about by chance—
1 met God.
‘What,’ he said, ‘you already?’
‘What,’ I said, ‘you still?’
He apologized and I apologized.
‘I thought I was alone,’ he said.
‘Are you displeased?’ I said.
‘I suppose I should not be,’ he said.
A dove hopped out of his sleeve
And muted well in his palm.
Frowning, he wrung its neck.
‘Are there any more of you?’ he said,
Tears in his eyes, but politely.
‘As many as you care to meet,’ I said.
Tears falling, he said politely,
‘I can’t wait, but remember me to them.’
Here was an awkward moment
Worthy of my awkwardness at last.
A Prince once kissed my cheek, saying,
‘Accept the only homage possible
From a vulgarian.’
And I did not protest.
But that was in a dream,
And the fellow only democratic-royal.
This was a more far-reaching
Crisis of deportment,
And I am describing it
Without lightness or guile.
Indeed, my manner at the time
Was my manner now.
Then God said,
‘I suppose I must be going.’
I said, not impolitely,
‘I suppose you must.’
Then follows a description
Of this brief illness—
Not to seem to be saying idly,
‘I am not ill,’ which of course you knew.
Yes, there has been an interval
Generally described as death.
Thank you, I am now as I was.
Perhaps you are not really interested,
Since it was really only a brief illness.
But I think it right to tell you
That nothing worse can happen now—
It was the worst, and thank you.
Then follows the old routine
Of being, thank you, not ill.
Perhaps indeed, like God,
You had better be going,
Instead of tears, a bored expression,
It having been made clear to you
That no more news will come from me
Than that I am, as usual, not ill.
Think of me, if you like, as dead,
And no description following.
And if this seems too final,
Was not such our common object,
Although our meanings differ somewhat?
You were listening for a something
And I have uttered you a something
That further listening of yours
And further uttering of mine
Could not make mean to you
More than you wished to know
Of what comes after—
Not more than: here ends.
My progress is not, like yours,
Toward a last page.
Should we not therefore part
When you at book’s end tire
And make as if not to turn over?
For my progress is toward
To be as usual not ill.
-A description having followed
Of an interval called death
By the living,
Perhaps you had better be going,
Since yours is not my way of ending.
There is always difference somewhat
When meanings differ somewhat.
You would continue to wear
A look of waiting for
A chapter you would never read,
And I to seem only standing still
Between furthermore and furthermore.
You would complain much of the weather,
That everybody’s scapegoat.
What, you may say,
Have I grown cold to you,
Have we not been friends since—
Yes, since the first page.
No, I am as usual,
Sensitive to the weather like you,
Mysterious of what next.
But you are growing different,
Restless to leave off.
By your time, the same as mine
When once we had one clock,
Patience is threadbare.
By mine, I am as usual not ill
After a brief illness,
An interval upon which
Time’s unanimity divides.
You wished to learn courage
For a certain destined major event
By flattering me to go first.
But, being not of your long ranks
Of hour-strung distances from death,
I have been here always
And so have only to report
A certain chance minor event
That fell to me by chance alone
Of walking into where I was.
At least, I cannot teach you courage,
Which comes by the grace of God
When patience goes.
I am not God.
True, we have met,
Which seems to clinch identity,
Since God like me went first.
But that will always be
To-morrow to God,
As it has always been
A yesterday to me
Between to-day and to-day.
And now I shall be frank,
Since we are about to part.
The interval, a description of which
Followed your desire for one,
Was a description merely.
I have not, of course, met God,
Or been ill, either long or briefly.
What, I have lied to you!
Yes, I have lied.
And, having had your lie,
Perhaps now you had better be going.
Then follows all that has preceded.
No, I have not met God.
Or, if you insist upon the truth,
I have so met him.
And what now, having had your truth?
Perhaps you will not be going.
Clearly some one had better be going.
I, for one, shall continue where I am.
God, I believe, will live on memories,
You I believe, each on forgetfulness.
Perhaps we had all better be going.
Perhaps I have not made myself plain.
Ah, the pity of it for me,
To be by name a poet,
To make myself plain,
And yet not to make myself plain
Because of being by name a poet,
A creature neither man nor God.
Yes, such a creature by name,
But featured like both man and God—
Like God, a creature of mind,
Like man, a creature of mouth.
Ah, the pity of it,
To be a mouth and mind,
But dimly named,
As if this third where two contended
Were murky mumbling peace thereof.
And ah, the pity of it for you,
To be by feature man or God,
And poet by name only to claim
That beyond man and God lies only
What only might a poet only claim,
Being creature of name only.
Ah, the pity of it for us all.
Perhaps we had better not be going.
Perhaps I had better write another poem
And, if necessary, yet another,
Until a description follows
Of an interval after which
There’s no return to time again,
To paradoxing truth between
The two same poles of logic,
Each lengthened out from each—
After which no description,
Equally dismal rain and sunshine—
If the hours are hours of waiting
To say for certain you, and I.
Happily there is this sure we,
Happily there is this love,
This chosen ambiguity,
Until the weather knows its mind.
Meanwhile this to-day,
To succeed never beyond the weather—
Until it climates death,
That double clarity
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE PRESENT
Whole is by breaking and by mending.
The body is a day of ruin,
The mind, a moment of repair.
A day is not a day of mind
Until all lifetime is repaired despair.
To break, to day-long die,
To be not yet nor yet
Until dreaming is of having been,
Until dreaming is of having dreamed—
How in those days—how fast—
How fast we seemed to dream—
How fast we talked—how lost—
How lost the words until—
Until the pen ran down
To this awakened not forgetting.
But in those days always
How forgotten—and to say over—
To say now and now—
Or in a letter to say over soon—
Do you remember now, John,
Our suburban conversation once of bees?
Neatly at breakfast we of bees,
A retired talk or walk
Among the outskirts of profundity?
Slowly of honeycombs and swarms
And angry queens we?
But slowly bees is briefest dozing.
Between the country and the city,
Between sound sleep and walking,
More gives to pause and buzz than bees
A book about—and by—
Nor need tastes differ but to pause.
Do you remember now, John,
Do you remember my friend John
Who had a lordly not-to-hurry eye,
A very previous eye
In an advanced socket?
Yes, I remember.
And I remember my friend Norman,
Though by frugality of will
He shall arrive punctually to-morrow
When even the cinematograph of time
Has ceased to advertise to-day
Though I remember.
Yes, she remembers all that seemed,
All that was like enough to now
To make a then as actual as then,
To make a now that succeeds only
By a more close resemblance to itself.
CARE IN CALLING
Who, then, is child,
And who is man?
Child is the first man still,
Man is the last man not yet.
And the first man is seed,
And the last man is seed silenced.
The last man is womanish:
Woman which before man
Was silent word alone—
That breeding silence she.
Let it be a care
How man or child
Be called man or child,
Or woman, woman.
A star by world-connivance seems part of the hill
A tree not by mere folly stands up creature-like.
Such painstaking acts of intelligence widely accost.
It is a compliment to nature to perceive them.
The mind is already full, near overflowing.
It is no mean compliment to, stop and smile
And verse such imperfections perfectwise.
Lyricism has had humane use in time:
To allow the bragging population to recover
From the exertion of behaving intelligently—
By commending the intelligence
Of nature’s stupid also prone to think,
Though they have only leaves for minds, or less.
You are, however, no longer a population.
If you are tired—good. This is a charm against
The brisk philosophies that conjure wisdoms
Satisfying to the ambition of time
To hold up its head among other times, other wisdoms.
You are, however, no longer an unknown number.
The calculation is completed, there now remains but
The copying of the determined selves
Into a closed gazette of memories
Where in the chary happiness of the dead
You lay you down, to think no more again.
If you are tired—good. Tiredness is to pray to death,
That it shall think for you when speechlessness
Tells how you lie so full of understanding each,
Sorry of life in his own grave of mind each.
CURE OF IGNORANCE
The dogs still bark,
And something is not clear.
From ignorance dogs barked always.
How to enlighten them?
There are no dogs now—
They do but bark.
What is not clear is what is clear.
Dogs have the scent,
Yet nothing runs like prey.
Shall we seem to disappear
Until the dogs stop barking?
There is no other way to explain.
WITH THE FACE
With the face goes a mirror
As with the mind a world.
Likeness tells the doubting eye
That strangeness is not strange.
At an early hour and knowledge
Identity not yet familiar
Looks back upon itself from later,
And seems itself.
To-day seems now.
With reality-to-be goes time.
With the mind goes a world.
With the heart goes a weather.
With the face goes a minor
As with the body a fear.
Young self goes staring to the wall
Where dumb futurity speaks calm,
And between then and then
Forebeing grows of age.
The mirror mixes with the eye.
Soon will it be the very eye.
Soon will the eye that was
The very mirror be.
Death, the final image, will shine
Transparently not otherwise
Than as the dark sun described
With such faint brightnesses.
THE BIOGRAPHY OF A MYTH
The first showing of herself was foolish,
And to fools: creature of other sense
She first moved into being, singing high
As fools admire, and delivering beauty
Like a three-hour entertainment
In a sweating playhouse, from a draughty stage.
Then they went home, grinning at otherness,
And she to lour in shame, out of which night
She rose unseen, absent in counted presence:
The one more wanting from the swollen streets
And overpeopled books and commonrooms.
And first she was a fool astounding fools,
Who gaped a wonder that forgot itself
So soon their jaws snapped shut on the next meal.
And then she called against herself so other,
The words drooping soft until alone she was,
Whispering. ‘She whom they did not see though saw
Myself now am, hidden all away in her
Inward from her confiding mouth and face
To deep discretion, this other-person mind.’
Here of too sudden being she made a patience
And bided in herself, from her flesh far
By days of outer damage that she felt not,
Yet learned of body and of pain from.
Here she grew dead, like a shaped no-one wandered
Among the shapeless someones of a past
That could prediction of her only argue
By the slow logic of time-making fear.
She grew secret, her body told not of her.
Invisibly she spoke, mutely she walked—
Known of but unknown, an imminence deferred.
In this pale state she had prediction of self.
In this pale year one had close panic of her
Who had been dead as many times before
As hope of her refused all other hope.
And he was dead greatly, he lived and knew her.
Now following fails, and she now never was,
And he who reached her side alive, a tale.
Nor any more in that once foolish world
Does aught lack or a chair or thought seem empty.
It is a world that was and leads not elsewhere.
Following fails. If she now where he found her
All earthly voice and posture by his side seems,
Then are they still not joined, not yet that world is
Where she the world, and he inhabiting
Like peace unto himself, no more to wait
And change and wait and change, till dead enough.
A world of death after a world of time comes,
But history goes no further than history—
The final scene reads dim, its sense senseless.
And mythically she haunts, a proven truth
So long she is no measured, proven seeming,
But, soon as real, to vanish of being real,
And beyond passion as beyond seeming dwell.
For they who loved and reasoned long and fine
Meant only to contrive with shortest arts
An afterwards to hold to-morrow off—
As a far-fancied god protects from fancy.
And if she came she went, and gave them back
Their faith, a legal gospel like false oaths
Adhered to with the loyalty of words
That do not pledge the mind to believe itself.
THE WIND, THE CLOCK, THE WE
The wind has at last got into the clock—
Every minute for itself.
There’s no more sixty,
There’s no more twelve,
It’s as late as it’s early.
The rain has washed out the numbers.
The trees don’t care what happens.
Time has become a landscape
Of suicidal leaves and stoic branches—
Unpainted as fast as painted.
Or perhaps that’s too much to say,
With the clock devouring itself
And the minutes given leave to die.
The sea’s no picture at all.
To sea, then: that’s time now,
And every mortal heart’s a sailor
Sworn to vengeance on the wind,
To hurl life back into the thin teeth
Out of which first it whistled,
An idiotic defiance of it knew not what
Screeching round the studying clock.
Now there’s neither ticking nor blowing.
The ship has gone down with its men,
The sea with the ship, the wind with the sea.
The wind at last got into the clock,
The clock at last got into the wind,
The world at last got out of itself.
At last we can make sense, you and I,
You lone survivors on paper,
The wind’s boldness and the clock’s care
Become a voiceless language,
And I the story hushed in it—
Is more to say of me?
Do I say more than self-choked falsity
Can repeat word for word after me,
The script not altered by a breath
Of perhaps meaning otherwise?
FROM LATER TO EARLIER
The table is laid,
The bed is made,
Breakfast and night
Make the day seem right.
Then right grows wrong as the day hardens into time.
For truth is not so full of right and argument,
So much, so long, so full of solid furnitures.
The place that earth imagines of is not so earth-like.
The death to know is not so dead, so full of corpses.
A self-judged universe of fact at evening calls
Good-bye to time—but morning shows another one.
When yesterday shall seem to-morrow, that’s the true lie.
And that which will be was, as many days ago
As Now is repetitions of itself.
For every certain meal, there’s a lost appetite
For hunger’s progress. For every sitting late
To make the mind more wise, wisdom by so much
Is finally unaged, returned to simpleness
By knowing all it can, and smiling ‘wise enough’.
The next world is
As near to this
As time is similar
To truth familiar.
RESPECT FOR THE DEAD
For they are dead.
They have learned to be truthful.
Respect for the truthfulness of the dead.
Remember them as they were not,
For this is how they are now.
Think of them with bowed hate.
For they did not choose to die,
And yet they are dead.
They gave false witness:
Life was not as they lived it.
And yet they now speak the truth.
Respect for the dead.
Respect for the truth.
Are the dead the truth?
Yes, because they live not.
Is the truth the dead?
No, because they live not.
What is the truth?
The truth is the one self alive.
Does the truth then live?
No, the truth does not die.
The truth and the dead do not die.
Respect for the truth and the dead
The truth is the one person alive.
It goes for a walk every evening
After day and before night.
It goes for a walk with the dead.
Respect for them as they pass.
For they are the dead whom you hate:
They were false.
And that is the truth which you hate:
It is true.
Respect for your hate.
Now not to smile again.
Those years of softening
To this one and to that one
Because the body has a meaning
Of defeat and dread unless
It advertises cheerfulness—
Those years of life-feigning are done.
Now is my smile pursed smooth
Into a stillest anger on
All flesh convivial
To my convivial flesh
Like scattered selves of me
Insisting right of scatteredness
And homed identity both—
As if by smiling promised.
By smiling I did promise
Not myself, compounded lover,
But the complete quarrel which
Must rage with man and else
Like sound with silence.
Never will sound be silence.
And the ear is noisy;
But the ear marks the difference,
And so my smiling did.
Man, world, beloved even!
To be I, that other I than you,
Dearer than self to you by test
Of pride-shattering desire,
Needs more than coveting
And minding me I was once woman,
Of such and such complaisance.
It was a war then rumoured,
Scarcely declared, battleless.
A guest as hostage fancied,
I moved the soldier-lusts in you:
Thus did you honour me.
But never have we fought,
Never till now, I departed
And the peace-troth raised.
I departed, since of soul-age
You now, grown to greed immortal
Of contradiction, to be the else
You made kinged state against,
To be more world, kinghood of not-you.
Now not to smile again:
Be greeted here, having come
Like Rome to sit you down
Upon eternal Rome. Eternity
In my look, celebration
Loud in yours, we’ll partner glory
And visit empire on each other
Disputedly, of which, long death, decide!
THE WORLD AND
This is not exactly what I mean
Any more than the sun is the sun.
But how to mean more closely
If the sun shines but approximately?
What a world of awkwardness!
What hostile implements of sense!
Perhaps this is as close a meaning
As perhaps becomes such knowing.
Else I think the world and I
Must live together as strangers and die—
A sour love, each doubtful whether
Was ever a thing to love the other.
No, better for both to be nearly sure
Each of each—exactly where
Exactly I and exactly the world
Fail to meet by a moment, and a word.
THERE IS NO LAND YET
The long sea, how short-lasting,
From water-thought to water-thought
So quick to feel surprise and shame.
Where moments are not time
But time is moments.
Such neither yes nor no,
Such only love, to have to-morrow
By certain failure of now and now.
On water lying strong ships and men
In weakness skilled reach elsewhere:
No prouder places from home in bed
The mightiest sleeper can know.
So faith took ship upon the sailor’s earth
To seek absurdities in heaven’s name—
Discovery but a fountain without source,
Legend of mist and lost patience.
The body swimming in itself
Is dissolution’s darling.
With dripping mouth it speaks a truth
That cannot lie, in words not born yet
Out of first immortality,
And the dusty eye whose accuracies
Turn watery in the Mind
Where waves of probability
Write vision in a tidal hand
That time alone can read.
And the dry land not yet,
Lonely and absolute salvation—
Boasting of constancy
Like an island with no water round
In water where no land is.
LETTER TO MAN’S REASONABLE SOUL
Here’s about sunshine and the sun
As long as the old fear goes on
Of being taken for a braggart,
Rather than for one just so strong
Able to lift up just so much
Of that loose burden called earth—
Which, as it lifts whole, is lifted
Out of time’s unmeaning peril
But, as it scatters and is lost,
Becomes the devil’s senseless pack. . . .
Here’s about curling of the tongue,
Crossed fingers and no present object
While others perhaps still live
To mock your natural arm
And make it drop down of the shame
Of seeming magical. . . .
Here’s about love, which mimics time
When the clock has stopped in the night
And the church bell seems out of order
Or the wind blowing the wrong way.
Here’s about time and love, Poor Friend—
Enough be it that love is long,
And no grace lost in putting off
Till the last moment what were hell to try
Till the last moment, and even then
A so much lesser heaven than heaven
By that just so strong arm of yours.
And how does the moon come in?
The moon’s for death, and to remind
That loss of will hangs overhead—
Unless, before death’s death only,
A ghost cries out, ‘Once I was man,
And man I mean to be again
Though death a dead man makes me.’
To close, then, here’s about a madness.
May it at just so late take hold your arm
And no caution avail against it.
May you be that unlikely one,
Uncertain subject of uncertain chronicle,
Who was to be wise against reason
And break into the lifeless regions
At the running down of strength—
Where there’s little more than to know
What’s lost by death, and to grieve not,
The heart being in that place accounted
Fool either, or false witness. .. .
Of which, to the same effect,
In my next letter, upon your answer
To the same effect ... perhaps your next. .. .
THE TALKING WORLD
Meeting on the way to the same there,
The tired ones talk and make a here,
And further is then where, and where?
The tired ones talk,
Abandoning the written destination
For whatever say-so can be spoken
To end the individual promenade
Sooner than the universal walk.
The tired ones talk, to not walk.
The untired ones talk, to talk and walk,
To live as well as die, lest dying prove
Less lively than to live.
Of such mixed intent
Places in time spring up,
And truth is anybody’s argument
Who can use words untruthfully enough
To build eternity inside his own short mouth.
The nicest thought is only gossip
If merchandized into plain language and sold
For so much understanding to the minute.
Gossip’s the mortal measure.
Whatever can’t be talked
In the closed idiom of yesterday,
That’s silence-worth and time-free
As a full purport must to-day be.
Great manyness there is
Before all becomes an all.
Uncertainty and criticism
Oppose to the unified eventual
A world of disagreement
In which every contradictory opinion
Is for to-day an ‘I’ wearing a crown
Of weeds plucked from the tip of the tongue.
Talk is the modesty of the modest.
Talk is the vanity of the vain.
Talk is to be various man.
Talk is to be man apart,
God apart from God the not-God.
Talk is to stop the ears with talk.
Talk is to hear according to the ear.
Talk is the body of the listener
That has its own long talk to walk
Before it comes where the mind rests
To hear without an ear
The unhearable words of no-talk.
And talk in talk like time in time vanishes.
Ringing changes on dumb supposition,
Conversation succeeds conversation,
Until there’s nothing left to talk about
Except truth, the perennial monologue,
And no talker to dispute it but itself.
The pleasure of talk is the pleasure of weakness,
As a tree that cannot walk loves not-walking.
The pain of talk is the pain of strength,
As a hand is weary-strong
By the labour that it fails of.
Talk is the whole of truth less talk.
Talk is a war on truth by talk,
And a peace with talk by truth.
In talk truth and talk make peace—
As an enemy forgives an enemy
For being not like to him.
Let there be talk and let there be no talk.
Let the birds with the birds chirp of birds that chirp
Let the wearers of coats with the wearers of coats
Speak the wisdom of coats, and with the coatmakers.
Let the uses of words prevail over words.
Let there be many ways of not lying
And no ways of truth-telling.
Let there be no wrong because no right.
The world talking round its sun
Leaves emptiness behind
For those to walk who are not,
Who show the space where truth is,
Who are the place with the words identical,
As walking is with talking
When feet and mouths agree
In the still pace of thought.
And more of talk I cannot talk,
Except I talk, speak mingled.
And you would then attend,
Nor complain that I speak solitary.
But complain no more.
Look, I am gone from you,
From your immunity to death and listening.
May you for ever not know nor weather cease
Wherein to die in your own colours,
With other banners flying than the black.
May you not lose the sun too soon—
Blindness and noise by which you stand
Between yourselves and yourselves.
May you not know how never more you were
Than such and such mistalking,
O talking world that says and forgets.
An end is a happy end only:
What only was moves into what is,
Unbodied grows, but lasting.
And by the matter is now alive,
Even by this beneficence of Yes
To No and No like angels made of nothing.
Science, the white heart of strangers,
Bleeds with an immaculate grief—
Tired apostates of curiosity,
Creed of apostatizing.
Truth need be but dead afterworld
To those who’ve had enough,
Thee readers and the lookers-on—
As stars keep off, or to short minds
Night seems a less real time than day,
Nott to be measured with or counted to
That quick self-evident sum of sun.
Have sleep and midnight warmth,
Where your scant eyes see failure,
Numbering the wakefullest page
The dark and frosty last.
An end is a happy end only.
And first the book’s end comes,
The printed public leaves off reading.
Then open the small secret doors,
When none’s there to read awrong.
Out runs happiness in a crowd,
The saving words and hours
That come too tragic-late for souls
Gifted with their own mercy:
Who spare themselves the joys
That would have darkened them
From the predaceous years.
Too orthodox maturity
For such heresy of child-remaining
On these the dusty blight of books descends,
Weird, pundit babyhoods
Whose blinking vision stammers out the past
Like a big-lettered foetus-future.
I am an indicated other:
Witness this common presence
Intelligible to the common mind,
The daylight census.
I am a such-and-such appearance
Listed among the furnitures
Of the proprietary epoch
That on the tattered throne of time
Effects inheritance still,
Though of shadow that estate now,
Death-dim, memory illumined.
You, spent kingdom of the senses,
Have laid hands on the unseeable,
Shadow’s seeming fellow:
And all together we
A population of names only
Inhabiting the hypothetic streets,
Where no one can be found
Ever at home.
Where then, fellow citizens
Of this post-carnal matter,
Is each the next and next one,
Stretching the instant chain
Toward its first-last link,
The twilight that into dawn passes
Without intervention of night,
Time’s slow terrible enemy?
That I with you did lie
In the same love-bed,
Of thinking bright against
The black pervasion, against the sleep
That gives not back if none makes argument
That yesterday is self still—
That I thus to you am like,
That I walk beside and straight
On your same circle of argument,
That I walked, that I was,
That I slept, that I lived—
That I live—let me be a proof
Of a world as was a world,
And accept it, King Habit,
From my mouth, our mouth.
But where, where?
If I have so companioned?
The same not-here I ever held,
And be it yours, and I yours,
Out of my mouth until
You tire of the possession
And, falling prone, relinquish
The stale breath of stubbornness.
Then will this still be here,
Here, here, the proved not-here
Of perfect contradiction—
Here where you visited on me
The individual genius, paradox.
And I will then stand you up,
To count you mine, since dying frenzy
Makes new dwelling-charm,
O entranced wizards of place-magic.
I, in the over-reaching moment,
In the reign one-too-many,
Dynasty too-long of time-kind
I, created time-kind by commingling
Of the jealous substance with
The different way to be—
I, out of your stopped mouth, our mouth,
Will spin round continuity,
Winding the thread me round
To keep these other years safe
Always and always while you haunt
The windows that might be here,
Looking for sign of elsewhere—
If I perhaps such same fatality
As before fast was magicked
Into the this-year dialects.
You who demanded of God the law
To be man by with most profit,
And were man by with the profit that you asked,
Who consumed your God, your law, your world,
In rotary science of diuturnal meals:
What now? Since of you lies only
This dead God at my feet of woman
Which accompanied him, or you,
To this death and satiation,
Should your self-stained lips still move,
Muttering, ‘More law, I starve’—
Then I must feed you, if you live,
Nor that old pap you died of,
The thin milk of time which was yourself
Mothered by yourself, O mortal Godhead.
Rise up then, here’s a feeding for you
That will answer: a nourishment
Not spirited from flesh—
The very words ‘Rise up’, and again
As you do not, from being dead, but would.
Rise up then, and again, ‘Rise up’—
Until you stand. And this obedience,
This having eaten, will last you
As many meals your mind can make of it.
I give you food this time, not you:
This time on time of not-self.
I do command you, since you ask it
And were dead of yourself so dead
Did I not, nor wish to lie so dead,
However the thing may be done.
Yes, the thing may be done,
But difficult the medicine, with bitter in—
Or you would not believe it strong
To get you up from mind with flesh down.
Which came of eating sweet.
Well, there are two sweets.
And here’s mine tasting different
Until the other is forgotten.
Was it then so sweet, too sweet?
That man-sugared law, prayer fed to prayer?
Was it then sweet-impossible, my Poor?
Well, here’s possible, since you ask it
And there’s no withholding possible,
The food that’s food to hunger
If hunger takes no prouder name.
Rise up, God Famine, and be man:
Here’s food, that matches hunger,
Here’s what-to-know, that matches mind.
Mind matching mind, desire matching hunger—
This is but flesh to flesh providing
Large empty image of itself.
This had no need of woman, nor did she give
More than unwilling mystery forth,
Invisible vines with fruit of yours upon,
When your eyes, like further bellies foraging,
Went hoping marvels to enrich
The haggard table of your soul.
To make no mistake, write Poison on me,
To tell the bottle which
And notify your sick distrust of sweet.
Have you an appetite for death now?
Never, never need that lack,
Self-cheated Ghost, with memory where your head
And shame where once your heart—
You own credulity’s Fool.
And the bones, the sceptic corpse
That you stood up from doom-dumb stone?
They grind the death of vanity,
Begun in starkest long-ago,
And have not death to think of now:
Let them to earth again like roots torn up
With flower along, that never dreamed of vase.
Numbers in heaven grow
As trees constrained between
Air and tight soil resolve
Divided heart by dancing
To the supposed music of earth
But with thoughts birdwise away— Imagining and motionless.
In heaven are such parliaments Opinionating of eternity;
Other the forestry of hell
Where rugged communities of will,
In tawdry treedom spread as cities,
Their foliate hates make boundless night of.
But how—to instruct of heaven
And to use hell’s name for hell,
And the time surely far off yet
To speak identical, word same as sense? What is God and what the devil
If tree-metaphors suffice
To tell immediately of?
God is pale doubt, the devil bright denial. Heaven perhaps next year, hell the last,
And the multitudes prophetic remnants
Of the millennial no-one.
And the time far off yet?
By less than any minute more,
By the slight scratching of the pen—
And to read the written story over,
Eyes still from trees green-fresh
And full of tangled nature
Still wondering which thing to be,
What’s most and best and fruitfullest
When drops the lightning season
And all together’s added up.
And will the sum be ever spelt
In other science than such numbers
Forward and backward bargaining
The errors with the answer?
The trees this year grow wide and tall,
The sun stands off great to watch,
And surely there’s a world abroad
To which the world-end calling
Is a mere unseen humming, a voice
In the slow branches muffled,
Musing how long yet is to be not loud,
To be a breath outside time’s lungs
Uncalendared soft truth still.
But surely truth is very old,
Very old, all but learnt, all but taught?
Does myself confound, that I speak?
Do yourselves hinder, that you hear?
That in tree-grammar we converse,
Since trees beside myself and you are?
Shall we then put away the book
And you and me and close the schoolroom?
But the trees that this year a year
May still be languaging as if
The time were still far off yet?
The trees will come along, as fast
As slow as you came, coming
The pace it pleased you—
As the trees please, and you.
Else the time’s gone like time
For walking out of time and into
Not-time, passing the trees by—
The trees, the present pleasantness
Of future future yet,
Not now or now, while life now lives,
Now lives, now lived—oh, coloured twilight,
Nearly immortal death.
There’s waking and dressing and what a fine day,
And to take and to leave and to laugh at or not.
There’s the same as there was, though there’s other.
There’s seeing, or to read, as you will.
There’s living and knowing like two lives.
There’s knowing and living like two books.
What a holiday, one from the other!
And how long can it last?
There’s time though there’s no time.
There’s doing though nothing to do.
There are two fairs, each a most fair,
And choosing between would lose both.
But how long can not-choosing claim both?
How long can your head keep turning
Between left and right so instantly
That you hold in one look what in two
Were perhaps loss of each—
How long flesh and spirit be twin
Equals in neitherhood?
But fear nothing, impartial lover
Of the proved past and the unprovable future.
The present endures with the greed
Of making one sense of two passions.
Fear nothing, unless passion’s thinning
Between such an opposite pair.
For both honour the heart they confound.
Mortality’s a handsome matron,
Or Death’s a lady of commanding elegance.
Indeed, you cannot put the first by—
She’s an old love, by her you had
Such children as declare the man,
Robust inventions of your dreaming limbs.
The other is a later pledge, and cruel,
Ghost-families her brood.
And yet the dower is a queen’s:
On a breast loud with common victories
Her silent badges swing unchallengeable.
But how long such balance of faiths,
Neither keeping and neither breaking?
How long will the careless sun make warm
While you go a-wintering with fancy—
The moon adoring with sun-given eyes?
There’s this and that the same stroke now.
There’s near-loss and near-gain, there’s between.
There’s rumour of end, and no ending.
And how often shall the rapt pendulum
Not travel, nor deliver itself
Either back, to the last hour,
Or forward, to failing?
Why, but once, clock-romantic:
For how long can your noisy ear endure
The unwound never-ticking,
And your hands the not-winding?
How long your pulse pause, world of motion?
Why, you’d rather again the old hours,
The swift deaths and new lives and changes,
Than to be dawdling-dead like a poet,
With but one death to die, and that everyone’s.
Humanity is no poet till it must be:
The book entices far the blood,
Humanity sits down to read not die.
And when the blood frights and, reverses,
That’s time to close the book and follow.
Humanity is no poet till it must be.
First comes the need of blood, the fire-water,
To flow and burn and be so many founts
Of year-eternities in like of sun;
By combustion of fear, drought into flame,
Flame into liquid length of will again.
Forward is frozen will only,
A stranger’s tomb only, dead thought.
When’s man a poet then? And was he ever one?
For if a death with the held moment stays
That is not struck—when frantic flesh
Runs homeward after blood fleeing
To previous courses and reddened turns—
That’s none of him, no part forgotten,
But of his second love a fancy
Lying man-like in her fancied arms,
With her own foolishness her arms filled.
The man’s away after the man.
She understood his wooing wrong.
He never meant her more than paper,
Nor does his heart one icy line remember.
Nor does she with a memory engage,
Crying, ‘My love was he, and he’s lost,’
Since in his stolen coming at her
He has gone from her, nor had been.
The same cry these do cry, one cry:
‘All is over, all is over, all!’
A small cry, then he’s back to time again,
And she athwart the cry, as on a love
None uttered and may yet be ridden—
The cry she silent cried, nor ever he,
Except the blood, scorching, send him all-speed
To look for other clime than body-heat,
Be that however sunless other place,
And he in such mad hate of self
To swear madness against his likest love.
THE UNTHRONGED ORACLE
Not to ask, not to be answered,
Not to fall down from last of breath,
Not to be raised—the stricken mouth
Though fit uniquely to make shape
Of unique plaint for stricken mind:
Never to this final cave and mouth of mouths
Have you, are you come, contestant race
That boastfully flew birds of tiding here
So long—from extinct monster-wing,
That never flew, to the etherealest feather
That floated back from far, forgetting
What too-heavy auspices were hung
There on its thin prophetic claw.
Birds, birds, all bird-like were your reaches,
Minds quicker than your minds, vain flights
Of consolation. (It will be as time tells,
As we attempt, as thoughts anticipate
Against exhaustion and straggle of feet.’)
Your coming, asking, seeing, knowing,
Was a fleeing from and stumbling
Into only mirrors, and behind which,
Behind all mirrors, dazzling pretences,
The general light of fortune
Keeps wrapt in sleeping unsleep,
All-mute of time, self-muttering like mute:
Fatality like lone wise-woman
Her unbought secrets counting over
That stink of hell, from fuming in her lap.
Is this to be alone?
When, when the day when votary ghosts unpale
And shriek rebellion at themselves
So dumbly death-loyal serving her
In acquiescent guile—since never came
A word of angry flesh or impious meaning
Through that hushed screen of priding world?
When, when the day? Is this to be alone?
Newspapers, mirrors, birds and births and clocks
Divide you from her by a trembling film
That never may dissolve between.
Perhaps even as you were will you remain
Such other manufactures of yourselves—
While round her storm unwillingly
Your empty spirits like better selves
You dared not be or gainsay—arguing, `
That ancient mystery-monger grows
By times of ours more and more ancient,
More deaf and slow in deeper company
Of omens private to her distance,
And love of talking lone in unheard bodement.’
But when, when the day? Is this to be alone?
THE FLOWERING URN
And every prodigal greatness
Must creep back into strange home,
Must fill the hollow matrix of
The never-begotten perfect son
Who never can be born.
And every quavering littleness
Must shrink more tinily than it knows
Into the giant hush whose sound
Reverberates within itself
As tenderest numbers cannot improve.
And from this jealous secrecy
Will rise itself, will flower up,
The likeness kept against false seed:
When death-whole is the seed
And no new harvest to fraction sowing.
Will rise the same peace that held
Before fertility’s lie awoke
The virgin sleep of Mother All:
The same but for the way in flowering
It speaks of fruits that could not be.
IT IS NOT SAD
It is not sad, or I would laugh.
Instead, seeming to laugh with you,
I cry, alone—’tis afterwards.
Alone, no handkerchief.
I seem, I seemed, to laugh with you,
To be a chair in which she sat
As wasteful friends among themselves,
Not growing dearer than they were.
It is not sad, or I would laugh,
Thinking apart how you addressed
A chair not empty, yet not myself.
Instead I cry, because I do not cry.
From having sat with you, and not,
I feel a grieflessness, a grief.
If there is weather still behind unspent,
I shall still feel it when it breaks,
And tell the changes between hot and cold
As if the slow death were my own:
Weather is the dead at the hard school
But if it’s love again, more love,
Here’s no commitment to your sense.
More love’s not ignorance:
It is to reason life against
Death in the understanding hailed.
And well you know that life is done.
Yet you will not know, you sit
Like dreamers in a closed café
At their next cups—
`Until the others go.’
Death is a wisdom left at home,
A book to recommend.
But who the author,
And what the tide? You can’t remember. Meanwhile at any table there’s any woman: That’s also
death, her mind elsewhere,
Here letting love make time
Out of her slow long ‘Day is done’—
So long, so long, there’s night yet.
But any woman soon goes home
And won’t be back to-morrow night. )
Death is this morning now,
Except where weather pleads another day
For the clumsy elements, or a year,
To learn the human lesson in.
In the same chairs you sit talking,
At the same hour—and of me
A fondness as of none absent
Fills your ears. But never did I sit so.
I cry with those supposed eyes mine,
And it is not sad, or I would laugh
In mourning of once having laughed,
Sitting with you in laughing death-talk.
But you had not death in your hearts,
More love only: a backwardness to keep Knowledge beyond the time of knowing—
Until too late, too late always.
Gloodbye, I cannot bring you closer
If you prefer the dying way,
Dwelling the living side of death.
Not me you sat with, but a pathos,
My partial image torn out of me.
Nor ever did you have me whole.
You courted a patched presence, her and her.
Now I am whole, now I have gone.
But fear not: if you suffer of it,
You cannot know—pleasure and pain
Vanished with understanding when
You knew and of this more of mind
Mlade more of love, more lingering.
Goodbye, we have both forgotten.
That garbled sweetness of our discourse
Was but the mist largening
Between us of occasion lost.
And therefore do I go off crying,
Since it is not sad, or I would sadly
Make to laugh, remembering laughing— Instead of with these tears forgetting.
I spare you further courtesies
Of cup and table, chair and conversation.
And get you off, an opposite way,
Riding against the heathen, death,
Into a Christian heaven where
Safe lie the individual graves
From death’s outlandish unioning.
And it is not sad:
No graves divide here the single scene
On which my tears fall as rain
Might upon nowhere spill, from nowhere,
To prove the meaning natural,
Unsudden fast succeeding
Of the familiar by the forgotten—
To prove me any woman once,
Whose human griefs now gathered in Compose a heart as then, a sadness of
Nothing to weep, no one to laugh with
Of having laughed once with of weeping.
THE SIGNS OF KNOWLEDGE
Not by water, fire or flesh
Does the world have that end
Which have it must in being, having been,
A world so privileged to begin
And long increase of self to spin,
And long outspinning, spinning out
To end of thread to have—
Not by water, fire or flesh,
Not by drinking back of self,
Not by flaming up of self,
Not by lavish plague to lie down
Sainted, rotted, rendered—
By words the world has end,
By words which brought
From first articulation, wordless stir,
To the last throbbing phrases.
Most world it is when quiets world
Into a listening and a thinking on
What world it was, into a learning of
What language in extreme
Makes full the famished grail
That never rose to brim
With the world’s eked wine.
By one sign shall you know the end,
The rising to the destined brim,
The last succession, the words enough.
By one sign shall there be a world
More like to whole-world than your world
More like to mere-world.
By one sign shall you first know All,
See more than world of much contains:
The sign of emptiness,
An empty grail, an empty world
Of world drained to be world-full.
By one sign! And have you seen?
There is and was an empty grail,
For nothing is the world which rose
From the cup’s bottom to never-full:
Nothing and never is that world.
And have you seen?
There is and was an empty grail.
And have you seen?
By two signs shall you know you see.
By two signs shall your much of world
Dissolve and solve into an empty grail.
By two signs shall you know the sign
By which to know a lacking world
And fullness forthheld emptily
In perfect mete of filling:
By two signs shall you know you see.
The first sign of the two signs
Shall be unlove of the sun.
The second sign of the two signs
Shall be unlife of the earth.
And the first with the second sign locked
Shall be undeath of the moon.
When an empty grail glows in the mind
Where once the moon wound faint without
Like hate of time afar constrained
To circle-slave in fond lament of time—
When the first and the second sign are one sign Shall you see the grail, know the moon-
Shall there be a whole-world pouring brimful
Into an empty grail, an empty world,
An empty whole, a whole emptiness.
And the first sign of the two signs
By the knowing of which you shall know
The one sign by the knowing of which
Shall you first know All like a grail
Whole at last to its brim
In whole emptiness of All—
The first sign of the two signs
Shall be unlove of the sun.
Learn then of unlove of the sun,
Lest it be in you and you know it not.
Does your tongue not lazy hang, alick not
With afternoons and aeons like old sores?
It is an old sore, the first sore,
It is all the sores—the sun!
Does your tongue no more sick-pleasure?
Does it stiffen to a taste it tastes not yet?
Does your tongue then point your eyes away
From sights that like old sores lie open
To be pity-pleasures, to be sorrow-scenes
Where beauty festers, frighted to heal?
Now does your tongue thirst not to see
The sun-world sore, the inflammations?
Do your eyes no more with tears burn blind
When thought of other-where than sun-where Commands your tongue to make report
Of other-sights, of mind-sights, tongue-sights?
From unlove of the sun, by one more glance Sudden-small to read more true-fine,
Comes unlife of the earth: oh, learn,
Lest unlife of the earth be in you
And you know it not, to welcome
What unlove of the sun undarks
Lest other-sights be seen, then lost
In morning-morrow’s sting of sun-life.
Learn then of unlife of the earth.
If unlife of the earth be in you,
By a strength to move not shall you know it.
Do your legs awalk leave other-legs to stand?
Do your hands atouch leave other-hands to fold? Does your head atwist leave other-head to
Have you a life, and a life, a quick and a still,
And the quick to tardy and turn,
And the still to move not—allspeed in a
Lasting-over, lasting-other unto-until
Shall come the full know-step and know-sight?
Oh, have you vanished from yourself
Nor seek old where-to-be nor new?
Oh, do you break in scatter-self and stay-self,
In wander-world and stand-mind?
Then have you unlife, and then learn.
Undeath of moon has come on you,
The moon-grail clears and wholes,
An emptiness whole-shines at eye-thought.
See whole then: these are the signs.
The first sign and the second are the one sign.
The one sign, the first truth, the first of truth,
Is moon’s undeath by empty grail signed.
The lesson of the first truth is an empty grail.
The first interpretation is by the eye.
Rubric for the Eye
See sun-wide, world-long, air-high;
See water-deep and earth-round.
Then let the eye look whole-impossible,
Look wider, longer, higher, deeper, rounder.
Let the thought sharpen as the eye dulls.
Let the thought see, let moon undazzle sun.
Sun of world, moon of word,
Eye-spilling live of eye, undeath of mind-sightMoon-clearly, emptily, full grail aspeak.
POET: A LYING WORD
You have now come with me, I have now come with you, to the season that should be winter,
and is not: we have not come back.
We have not come back: we have not come round: we have not moved. I have taken you, you have
taken me, to the next and next span, and the last—and it is the last. Stand against me then
and stare well through me then. It is a wall not to be scaled and left behind like the old
seasons, like the poets who were the seasons.
Stand against me then and stare well through me then. I am no poet as you have span by span
leapt the high words to the next depth and season, the next season always, the last always,
and the next. I am a true wall: you may but stare me through.
It is a false wall, .a poet: it is a lying word. It is a wall that closes and does not.
This is no wall that closes and does not. It is a wall to see into, it is no other season’s
height. Beyond it lies no depth and height of further travel, no partial courses. Stand
against me then and stare well through me then. Like wall of poet here I rise, but am no
poet as walls have risen between next and next and made false end to leap. A last, true wall
am I: you may but stare me through.
And the tale is no more of the going: no more a poet’s tale of a going false-like to a
seeing. The tale is of a seeing true-like to a knowing: there’s but to stare the wall
through now, well through
It is not a wall, it is not a poet. It is not a lying wall, it is not a lying word. It is a
written edge of time. Step not across, for then into my mouth, my eyes, you fall Come close,
stare me well through, speak as you see. But, oh, infatuated drove of lives, step not across
now. Into my mouth, my eyes, shall you thus fall, and be yourselves no more.
Into my mouth, my eyes, I say, I say. I am no poet like transitory wall to lead you on into
such slow terrain of time as measured out your single span to broken turns of season once
and once again. I lead you not. You have now come with me, I have now come with you, to your
last turn and season: thus could I come with you, thus only.
I say, I say, I am, it is, such wall, such poet, such not lying, such not leading into.
Await the sight, and look well through, know by such standing still that next comes none of
Comes what? Comes this even I, even this not-I, this not lying season when death holds the
year at steady count— this every-year.
Would you not see, not know, not mark the count? What would you then? Why have you come here
then? To leap a wall that is no wall, and a true wall? To step across into my eyes and mouth
not yours? To cry me down like wall or poet as often your way led past down-falling height
I say, I say, I am, it is: such wall, such end of graded travel. And if you will not hark,
come tumbling then upon me, into my eyes, my mouth, and be the backward utterance of
yourselves expiring angrily through instant seasons that played you time-false.
My eyes, my mouth, my hovering hands, my intransmutable head: wherein my eyes, my mouth, my
hands, my head, my body-self, are not such mortal simulacrum as everlong you builded against
very-death, to keep you everlong in boasted death-course, neverlong? I say, I say, I am not
builded of you so.
This body-self, this wall, this poet-like address, is that last barrier long shied of in
your elliptic changes: out of your leaping, shying, season-quibbling, have I made it, is it
made. And if now poet-like it rings with one-more-time as if, this is the mounted stupor of
your everlong outbiding worn prompt and lyric, poet-like—the forbidden one-more-time worn
Does it seem I ring, I sing, I rhyme, I poet-wit? Shame on me then! Grin me your foulest
humour then of poet-piety, your eyes rolled up in white hypocrisy—should I be one sprite
more of your versed fame—or turned from me into your historied brain, where the lines read
more actual? Shame on me then!
And haste unto us both, my shame is yours. How long I seem to beckon like a wall beyond
which stretches longer length of fleshsome traverse: it is your lie of flesh and my flesh-
seeming stand of words. Haste then unto us both! I say, I say. This wall reads ‘Stop!’ This
poet verses ‘Poet: a lying word!’
Shall the wall then not crumble, as to walls is given? Have I not said: ‘Stare me well
through’? It is indeed a wall, crumble it shall. It is a wall of walls, stare it well
through: the reading gentles near, the name of death passes with the season that it was not.
Death is a very wall. The going over walls, against walls, is a dying and a learning. Death
is a knowing-death. Known death is truth sighted at the halt. The name of death passes. The
mouth that moves with death forgets the word.
And the first page is the last of death. And haste unto us both, lest the wall seem to
crumble not, to lead mock- onward. And the first page reads. ‘Haste unto us both!’ And the
first page reads: ‘Slowly, it is the first page only.’
Slowly, it is the page before the first page only, there is no haste. The page before the
first page tells of death, haste, slowness: how truth falls true now at the turn of page, at
time of telling. Truth one by one falls true. And the first page reads, the page which is
the page before the first page only: ‘This once-upon-a-time when seasons failed, and time
stared through the wall nor made to leap across, is the hour, the season, seasons, year and
years, no wall and wall, where when and when the classic lie dissolves and nakedly time
salted is with truth’s sweet flood nor yet to mix with, but be salted tidal-sweet-O
sacramental ultimate by which shall time be old-renewed nor yet another season move.’ I say,
THREE SERMONS TO THE DEAD
The Way of the Air
The way of the air is by clouds to speak
And by clouds to be silent.
The way of the air is a progress
From treachery to repentance.
The air is the freedom to hope.
You breathe your hopes,
And are glad, and live.
And there are clouds.
There are clouds which betray your hopes.
To whom? To your Conscience, which is not you.
And you are ashamed, and the clouds tear.
By the conscienceless air you live,
But by Conscience, your mouth’s tight seal,
You die, you are what you are only.
The clouds are you, Conscience is not you.
Yet you make the clouds to tear and repent
For Conscience’s sake, which is not you.
For first was the air, and last is Conscience.
And that which is last is, and that which was first is not. First was freedom, and last is a
The free word tears, but the sealed mouth is silenter.
The air opens your mouth, the clouds unshape it. Conscience closes the mouth, but gives it
What is Conscience? It is Death—
In airless final love of which
You keep inviolate your voice
Against the clouds that steam in traitor whispers Repentantly upon your mouth,
Aura of tattered hopes
Protesting as you dare not.
Not All Immaculate
Yet it is not all immaculate death—
Not all a folding to of covers
Punctually, by time’s trembling hands.
There is (unreadable) a motley clatter
After that day of instantaneousness
Has summoned instant night from night.
There is a panic of stained steps
Along pale streets conspiring backwards
Into remembered days like bedrooms
Slow with oversleeping, timeless.
It is not all a tidy ending, dawning
Of a picture-page whereon tidily, briefly,
The world is told of by a thinnest light—
The moon-like smile of worn Forgiveness.
Against this weather-peace there cries
(Unhearable) a scarlet wind,
As the sun’s bull once bellowed,
And a black rain beseeches, as earth once
In pride of ram besought itself to doubt.
This guarded day is not the whole of you,
Whose foreheads by this day resist
Nature’s insanities and headaches,
The garrulous mute bodily debates.
This night which hammers brain-like
At your immune memories now
Lies far and dim, but great it lies
As far and dim, greatly unrolls
That which has been forgotten greatly.
It is not all this sheerer day.
There is that, also, which you have forgotten.
There is a blemished night abroad,
And though you lock it in itself
With lockless rigour, that it may not out
By any mercy-key of yours,
Still does it shadow the lustrated tale—
Since of you also those young chapters
Toward which, as to later lives,
Young, later selves of you go futuring.
Nor Is It Written
Nor is it written that you may not grieve. There is no rule of joy; long may you dwell Not
smiling yet in that last pain,
On that last supper of the heart.
It is not written that you must take joy Because not thus again shall you sit down To ply
the mingled banquet
Which the deep larder of illusion shed Like myth in time grown not astonishing. Lean to the
cloth awhile, and yet awhile, And even may your eyes caress
Proudly the used abundance.
It is not written in what heart
You may not pass from magic plenty
Into the straitened nowadays.
To each is given secrecy of heart,
To make himself what heart he please
In stirring up from that fond table
To sit him down at this sharp meal.
It shall not here be asked of him
`What thinks your heart?’
Long may you sorely to yourself upbraid This truth unwild, this only-bread.
It is not counted what large passions Your heart in ancient private keeps alive. To each is
given what defeat he will.
I have done all, you have done all,
That I, that you, that you, that we,
As I was, you were, we were,
Could have done as doing was.
I have said all, you have said all
That I, that you, that we,
As I was, you were, we were,
Could have said as saying was.
Now comes a blessing on us,
Close all our eyes on us
And let us bless us thankfully
That we have been and are not.
We are not as we were.
And as we were was well,
And as we are is well.
It is well now that we are not.
The mystery wherein we
Accustomed grew as to the dark
Has now been seen enough—
I have seen, you have seen.
I have seen and I am off:
I hurry to the cause of it.
You have seen and wait slowly
The forgotten cause of it.
It seems not now distressful
Or yet too much delighted in.
It was a mystery endured
Until a fuller sense befall.
Let us now close our eyes all
And anxiously be blessed in this:
That I so hurry off to bring
Full sense, mystery’s cause even.
And while I hurry off you wait,
And while I hurry off I bring,
And while I bring you unforget
The cause which mystery became.
The fuller sense and cause became
That old and older mystery
As you more unremembered
That oldest sense you never knew.
And now we have done all, said all,
Within the mystery, you and I,
To make it no blind sudden sight
When open crash the clouds of time.
We have now seen, already seen,
Through folded clouds and folded meaning
The blindness and the evilness
That so have we been wrapped.
We have all sinned, been wrapped apart.
I went your way of doing, saying,
You went your way of doing, saying,
We have all sinned, pretended.
You have pretended to be seeing.
I have pretended that you saw.
So came we by such eyes—
And within mystery to have language.
The cause was that a way lacked.
It seemed a wayless world like no world.
You made a way and a world
Which no way was, nor any world.
You made that which could not be made.
A way is not to be made, nor a world.
You made no way and no world.
You made a mystery because you made.
You would see, and made a mystery to see.
The cause of the mystery was that you saw.
The cause of the mystery was that you would see. The cause of the mystery was that you did
There was no sight to see.
That which is to be seen is no sight.
You made it a sight to see.
It is no sight, and this was the cause.
Now, having seen, let our eyes close
And a dark blessing pass among us—
A quick-slow blessing to have seen
And said and done no worse or better.
And slowly wait—slowly it happened
A way and a world to be made,
And to seem the way and the world
Which must be so if aught is.
Slowly be true as slowly you were false.
By falseness you were,
By your falseness I was false: I was.
Slowly be no more, nor I.
And quickly I: I must be off and back
To come not back but bring back
The mystery’s cause and fullness—
The sense comes back, not I.
To you who are not I who am not
Bring that which is if aught is,
That which is if aught else is,
That which is.
My loves, it happens sweet.
It is a mothering wisdom.
Remember what you never knew
And be like births of knowledge stirring—
Quick and slow within the doom,
Within the blessing we have loosened
After so long upon ourselves
You upon you, I upon us all.
Close all our eyes on us.
A wayless world like no world
Leaves the perjurious lids
In blessing of them, of their eyes.
And what eyes then will open,
And how bright the way and world
That failed when dull eyes pressed
So bright a sight to see?
It is not so, it is not as it was,
To talk so, see so, study so
A mystery and fashion so
A sight to see, to dwell in.
We are not as we were.
The action is self-worn.
The words connive no more.
The appearance hangs unseen.
We have been in hell.
A blessing on us—we have been in hell.
We have made hell.
A blessing on us— we have proved hell.
There is only hell to prove:
Which logic is a poor art now,
Like to be apt in ignorance
Where ignorance is guile.
You have no need to prove now,
Nor I to do and say along.
We have finished with not knowing.
We have returned to wonder.
We are now back in wonder.
You made yourselves to know.
You now know, you are now unmade.
We are at last, again, in wonder.
And we are not—least am I.
First I was a woman, and I feigned.
Then I was yourselves, and I fooled.
Then I was a spirit, and I subtilized.
Now am I not, utterly I am not.
Utterly is that which is.
I bring what is.
Least am I, quickest not to be am I.
And slowest you to be not you.
My loves, be slow: wait.
Do not yet go, the end
Is not as you thought—departure.
The eid does not disperse.
It gathers up, it contains.
You shall be destroyed and contained.
You shall be wholly joined.
We shall be wholly joined.
We were then but a patched crowd.
We stood outside us then
Like friendship in vague streets.
And I stood with you,
Against that, soon or sooner,
A blessing and a parting must
Send home from home.
Against this parting so to meet
I with you, and did, and said.
Here wholly shall we love and meet
And be not, and I least.
A blessing on us all, on our last folly,
That we part and give blessing.
Yet a folly to be done
A greater one to spare.
Were you now to turn ghostly
And to say ‘Being not, we are not’—
Were you to be found far, as lost,
When the full way and world came finding—
Then must I like myself go calling
Name by name a former silence.
This were a greater folly
Than now to bless all.
For in no wise shall it be
As it is, as it has been.
A blessing on us all,
That we shall in no wise be as we were.
I would in no wise again so call.
I shall in no wise again so call.
You shall in no wise again so perplex,
And I with you, in mystery apart.
The cause of the mystery
Was the full sense thereof.
You wished to see fully:
A world is not to be held in an eye.
A world is an eye.
An eye is not to be held in an eye.
A way is an only way.
It is not to be tracked through itself.
Nevertheless it was so,
So indeed you seemed to devise.
So you pretended, and I with you:
We made to be what could not be.
We made an example of ourselves.
You made you to move apart.
I made me like thing to you.
Thus was it an example, extremely.
It is not I who moved apart.
All but I moved apart.
You moved apart, and I with you,
But I was a dead thing from the first.
As you were live things,
So I was a dead thing.
Such was my likeness to you.
It is like to a live thing to be dead.
For the live things grow dead.
And the dead thing is not.
Such was your likeness to me.
Such is the joining.
And a blessing on us all,
That we may all be joined.
A blessing on us all lest it seem not so
By the end of a false friendship.
Therefore close all our eyes on us.
And in such slow voiding do you wait.
For into such slow voiding shall I bring
Quickly the indivisible.
DISCLAIMER OF THE PERSON
I say myself.
The beginning was that no saying was.—
There was no beginning.
There is an end and there was no beginning.
There is a saying and there was no saying.
In the beginning God did not create.
There was no creation.
There was no God.
There was that I did not say.
I did not say because I could not say.
I could not say because I was not.
I was not because I am.
I am because I say.
I say myself.
Myself is all that was not said,
That never could be said,
Until I said ‘I say.’
I say myself.
How am I now who was not,
Yet who never was not?
What is now?
When is now?
What am I?
Who am I?
Where is now?
Where am I?
I am, I never have not been,
Words of agreement thing with thing.
Never was there not
Final agreement thing with thing.
I say final agreement thing with thing.
I say myself.
Never was I not.
Never has there been not now.
I am now because I never was not.
I am now because time is not.
I was not because God was.
Time is God.
God was time.
Time is thing on thing.
God was disagreement thing with thing.
Never were there not things.
Never was there not
Final agreement thing with thing.
Never was there God.
God did not say.
God did not create.
Never was there creation.
Never were there not things.
Never was there not
Final agreement thing with thing.
Agreement thing with thing is to say.
Never till now has it been said.
I say myself.
What is now?
Now is myself.
Now is when I say.
What am I?
I am what I say.
Who am I?
I am I who say.
Where is now?
Now is where I am.
Where am I?
I am in what I say.
What do I say?
I say myself.
What is myself?
Myself was not God.
Myself is not time.
I say God was not and time is not.
Now is final agreement thing with thing,
Which never has been not.
Now is all things one thing.
What is a thing?
It is that which, being not myself,
Is as myself in being not myself.
What is one thing?
It is all things myself
And each as myself
And none myself.
For I alone say.
I alone say myself.
I say myself only.
There is myself to say only.
There is one thing to say only.
There is one thing only.
Myself alone is the one thing only.
I am not I.
I am the one thing only
Which each thing is
When each as all is
In being each only.
I am not I. I am not I,
Though none other but myself am I.
I am the I which is not any one.
I am I.
I am not I.
To be myself has taken time, all time—
Has taken thing on thing, all things—
Has taken God,
Has taken thing with thing not one thing.
To be myself has taken life, thing and thing— Has taken death, thing and thing and nothing.
To be myself has taken to be not myself.
It was not myself, it is myself.
Now is I.
I am not I. I am now.
Before now was a world.
Now is I.
A world is a before.
A world has no beginning.
A before has no beginning.
A before always was.
A now always is.
Never was now.
Always is now. Never was I.
Always am I.
I am whatever now is always.
I am not I.
I am not a world.
I am a woman.
I am not the sun which multiplied,
I am the moon which singled.
I am not the moon but a singling.
I am I.
I am my name.
My name is not my name.
It is the name of what I say.
My name is what is said.
I alone say.
I alone am not I.
I am my name.
My name is not my name,
My name is the name.
The name is the one word only.
The one word only is the one thing only.
The one thing only is the word which says. The word which says is no word.
The one word only is no word.
The one word only is agreement
Word with word finally.
Suspicion like the earth is hard
And like the earth opposes
Dense fact to the doubtable:
Which therefore like the air surrenders Semblance to the bolder sights.
I have surrendered place
To many solid miles of brain-rote,
To the just so many matters and no more
That reason, grudging prodigal,
Allows numerous, consecutive.
Even in my own mind I have stood last,
An airy exile, nothing, nowhere,
My eyes obeying laws of circumspection
By which myself shone fanciful
In lurid never:
Because that had been so, I not.
But as time learns a boredom,
Loathes the determinate succession,
Irks with uncalendared event
And brings surprise to be,
The natural conscience snapped in me—
And lo! I was, I am.
Elastic logic thinning
Grows delicate to marvels.
Fine argument at finest disembroils
The ravelled choking maze of caution.
The sudden of the slow is bred,
The curious of the common.
Into the sceptic fog that mists
Infraction from the chronic rule
Stumbles intelligence a-rage
To find the unthought wanton thought
And, self-confounding, think it.
My life, with other lives a world,
With other ways of being a coiled nature,
Springs separate: I am personified,
Of being caught in that pressed confluence
And proven look-substantial,
Yet strange to the familiar soul
In fellowed course entwined.
Acquaintance marks out unacquaintance.
Usage has bound of mystery.
The continents of vision view
A further which grows spatial
From lying next, in dark increase
Of the gregarious light with which
Compacting sense embraces straggling all.
Thus is reality divided
Against itself, into domestic axiom
And recondite surmise;
And joins, when near to uttermost,
When plain to covert leaps,
In one extreme of here-to-here.
I have a local likeliness,
Haunting the various neighbour-hearth;
But where the shadow is and chill
And unnamed distance fear-deep,
I also am, or was, and not, intolerably.
Must be union of body and wraith.
Wonted and wondrous must touch.
At first there’s daze, habit’s reluctance.
Then quivers new that which long loured archaic— Which has the secret age enough
To open frank from bloom potential
Like the last flower of nervous chance,
And the first of far intention.
But is this I interior,
The smothered whole that lurked unlive
Till obvious fragment sought
Its late entire and matching?
Or the outer stranger, proofless,
Come from stealth into defiance
And with a heart incongruent—
Suspicion’s devilish shadow
Which the lies are made of,
For truth-proud reason to declare untrue?
This is I, I: the I-thing.
It is a self-postponed exactitude,
An after-happening to happen come:
As closing calm is actual
By all the sooner winds, and these
Its wild own are, in heirship silent.
A soft word-fit ear to meet
With a monster-foreign noising—
Be it of lapsed vigours fallen
Furious at their meaning’s ebb—
In the same room of sound is ominous:
There’s word to be, and hearing of it
Louder than these memories
Which once, being life itself, prevented.
So have I beat against my final ear
Such whims and whirrings, stubborn echoes
Whose lost persuasion I made my own,
Whose dinning death. So have I lived,
Approaching rhythms of old circumstance
To the perilous margin, moment.
And struck the string which breaks at sounding, Taken the tremorless note to mouth,
And spoken sound’s inversion
Like a statue moved with stillness.
This is that latest all-risk:
An I which mine is for the courage
No other to be, if not danger’s self.
Nor did I other become, others,
In braving all-risk with hushed step,
Mind rattling veteran armouries.
I did thus creep upon myself
A player of two parts, as woman turns
Between the lover and beloved,
So it be well—she is herself and not,
Herself and anxious love.
So it be well: the clasping, death of fear,
When passion smoothes into a face
And fright subdues from scream to voice,
And dumb eventuality
Mantles aflush with language:
So is it well, the danger.
We have rejected time,
Expelled the furtive future
From our coward lag-clock;
And nothing’s left to count but now,
And now again, and then and then
That cannot but the same be,
That may not flutter strewn
To spread its gathered instantness
As it were lazy flock of bird-speed.
If this be I.
If words from earthy durance loosed
To earthy right of meaning
Cannot belie their wisdoming,
The doubt-schooled care that bent back sense
From skyish startle, faith’s delirium.
If I my words am,
If the footed head which frowns them
And the handed heart which smiles them
Are the very writing, table, chair,
The paper, pen, self, taut community
Wherein enigma’s orb is word-constrained.
Does myself upon the page meet,
Does the thronging firm a name
To nod my own—witnessing
I write or am this, it is written?
What thinks the world?
Has here the time-eclipsed occasion
Or does the world demand,
And what think I?
The world in me which fleet to disavow
Ordains perpetual reiteration?
And these the words ensuing.