Warm in nutritious mulch, we germinate,
And of ourselves we feed; some lesser fry
Lie dormant still, by spring's alarm untouched,
From summerís bounty barred. Why, when the years
Give notice of denial, may we not
Like locksmiths turn our newest tumblers loose
Upon the lawn, and, from a brimming jug
Drown somnolence in alcoholic cheer
And deep contentment? No; for when we strive
To summon up the moon's most hoary face
In stiff remembrance, clouded with remorse
The merest hint of which would spell the end
Of time's imposture, all our withered shadows
Die a-borning, pent beyond the veil.
How best conjure, by faith, such fruitful yield
When all around the land lies burnt and sere
with stagnant salt-pans, dearth's memorial.
We strive, but striving know that we shall fail
In such endeavours as, when disavowed,
Will tempt the feet of those who walk the waves
In saviour's guise. Yet awe, in sighs of sleep
Will cause our eyes to widen, noses flare
Like stallions in the dawn. Hope glimmers still
Though in another's eyes; and in defeat
Our troubled curses make the sun turn pale
Though not so pale, perhaps, as heretofore
For, strengthened now by victims' blood, it turns
In orbit caustic, shadowing a tryst
A spiteful meeting at the coven's wrath
Which heralds tragedy for this sad realm
Yet even so, the lily spares no scent
Nor stints her sensual promise of cool joys.
Not she, immune to treason nor to time
And yet, still slave to him who comes to all
Forcing rash demands upon the soil
He warms, with finger gold and burnished thumb.
When, through the decaying years, our barren
Limbs upbraid the heavens' dial, and when
Our weary hearts beat slower but beat sounder,
Our shining, worn escapements lose their edge
Keeping no glowing archive for our solace.
This it remains, and the remainder thus
Itself engenders its own residues
In sallow time's bewildered almanack
Harbouring long-lapsed trysts to no good end;
And when the key is turned, when all is known
Of fecund or of sterile, quick or dead,
When swings the final door, the fatal hinge
Whhose groans betray the ravages of rust
Too long untended, and too far behind
The reckonings of Tophet ... Ay! What then?
Roof shall abase to floor, and floor to ground
Before the pristine actuary-magus;
His propehcy but piles of ruins
Despite the ivy, ineffectual buttress;
Tower shall slope to turf, pile fall to pond
Leaf cling to leaf, concealing all the paths
Earth harbours; milk shall curdle in the byre
Wine in the butt degrade to vinegar.
In desolate lament , each lovelorn bleat
Falls fallow on the thin unheeded air.
And I, whom all betrayers have abjured
In strict adherence to their solemn curse,
And thee, forever wandering, possessed
By burden's knowledge of the ghost of time
Dissembled quite; how shall we, sister, fare
Together at the edge of temperance
And on the very brink of sanity?
I tremble quite, envisaging our doom
Swept, nameless, down the brackish torrent - yet,
Some stain, by us impasted on the silence
As 'twere th'embodiment of rime,
Shall print us immemorial as stones
And when, at last, Time's palsied sands have run
Their paltry course, and 'neath the final dust
The tigers of indifference repose,
The muscled threat is but disguised
Anew, and rises yet again, an atom's breadth
Away from penitence, the like of which
Was never dreamt by cranium of yore
Even in ghostly ecstasy. Indeed,
But for the haste of man, the tears would flow
In all-consuming torrent, washing out
Life's thinnest crust onto the shore
|E Greejius, Roland, P, The Agent Apsley, TG, KT, Grayman, (trad), The Agnet Apsley.
|30th January 2000.