For the Heroes Dipped in Scarlet

From Last Poems by D.H. Lawrence

Before Plato told the great lie of ideals
men slimly went like fishes, and didn’t care.

They had long hair, like Samson,
and clean as arrows they sped at the mark
when the bow-cord twanged.

They knew it was no use knowing
their own nothingness:
for they were not nothing.

So now they come back! Hark!
Hark! the low and shattering laughter of bearded men
with the slim waists of warriors, and the long feet
of moonlit dancers.

Oh, and their faces scarlet, like the dolphin’s blood!
Lo! the loveliest is red all over, rippling vermilion
as he ripples upwards!
laughing in his black beard!

They are dancing! they return, as they went, dancing!
For the thing that is done without the glowing as of god, vermilion,
were best not done at all.
How glistening red they are!

Prelude To An Unwritten Masterpiece

by Siegfried Sassoon

You like my bird-sung gardens: wings and flowers;
Calm landscapes for emotion; star-lit lawns;
And Youth against the sun-rise… ‘Not profound;
‘But such a haunting music in the sound:
‘Do it once more; it helps us to forget’.

Last night I dreamt an old recurring scene—
Some complex out of childhood; (sex, of course!)
I can’t remember how the trouble starts;
And then I’m running blindly in the sun
Down the old orchard, and there’s something cruel
Chasing me; someone roused to a grim pursuit
Of clumsy anger… Crash! I’m through the fence
And thrusting wildly down the wood that’s dense
With woven green of safety; paths that wind
Moss-grown from glade to glade; and far behind,
One thwarted yell; then silence. I’ve escaped.

That’s where it used to stop. Last night I went
Onward until the trees were dark and huge,
And I was lost, cut off from all return
By swamps and birdless jungles. I’d no chance
Of getting home for tea. I woke with shivers,
And thought of crocodiles in crawling rivers.

Some day I’ll build (more ruggedly than Doughty)
A dark tremendous song you’ll never hear.
My beard will be a snow-storm, drifting whiter
On bowed, prophetic shoulders, year by year.
And some will say, ‘His work has grown so dreary.’
Others, ‘He used to be a charming writer’.
And you, my friend, will query—
‘Why can’t you cut it short, you pompous blighter?’

 

Leighton’s ‘Francesca Di Rimini’

‘That day they read no more,’ Virtue grows faint,
One hand lies powerless, the wife’s sweet face
Is half-convulsed by loss of self-restraint.
Outstretched to resist, remaining to embrace,
The extended arm will clasp her guilty lover,
And all the bright, pure world beyond for her be over.

Their very forms grow blurred and change their colour
Into dim snaky wreaths of purple pallor,
Fading away with Honour’s fading Law
Into the pale sad ghosts that Dante saw;
Which we too see, crowned with departing glory,
When Leighton’s genius deepens Dante’s story.

-Robin Allen 6th April 1861

Blue Hour

It has been a while since I posted a poem to this blog. Here’s one I found at a German website. Translation thanks to google translate, although I did modify the text a little to make it more suitable to English diction.

by Stefan George

Look at this blue hour
Behind the garden,
behind the tent!
She took merry findings
For the valuable consideration of pale sisters.

Filled with Excitement and Cheer
So she hurries to the clouds – look!
A victim slowly failing.
She says as she burns up what they gave.

That they should not go so fast
So we ponder · remaining dedicated to her
Eccentricity, even as it arches
[Bringing upon us]
A dark rich revelry.

As deep as
The cheering and groaning is
In this new Paradise
Still it lures and stirred when already verdant.

The Applicant

by Sylvia Plath

strange plath

First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit –

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as paper to start

But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
You have an eye, it’s an image.
My boy, it’s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

(Courtesy of A Wind of Such Violence)