Parting Salvo.

8 Oct

As people I love and grew up with hit the merry mid ’20s, all one can be expected to do is to furnish them with poems in their revelry. This is the last hurrah for 2010 (well, as far as I remember; my memory is terrible at birthday-documentation.) This one is for someone whom, if I were cooler and less awkward around slang, I would call Sistah!

Things the world already knows about her: she’s a peake-geek with a romance (and tentacle porn) fixation. Things it doesn’t (plenty) were presumably left mysterious with sound reason, and we shall not dwell upon them.

Therefore,

I cannot give the reasons

I cannot give the reasons,
I can only sing the tunes:
the sadness of the seasons
the madness of the moons.

Pan, Mervyn Peake.

I cannot be didatic
or lucid, but I can
be quite obscure and practic-
ally marzipan

In gorgery and gushness,
and all that’s squishified.
My voice has all the lushness
of what I can’t abide.

And yet it has a beauty
most proud and terrible.
Denied to those whose duty
is to be cerebral.

Among the antlered mountains
I make my viscous way
and watch the sepia fountains
Throw up their lime-green spray.

Mervyn Peake.

Since concern about creaking bones and the fading quality age has upon amorous ardour was recently expressed, this post now seeks to inject some from far away, to make this a complete present, as it were.

To those who would woo, I tell you this is the poem to use.

I Knew a Woman

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,

She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;

She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:

I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;

She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,

Coming behind her for her pretty sake

(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:

Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;

She played it quick, she played it light and loose;

My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;

Her several parts could keep a pure repose,

Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose

(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I’m martyr to a motion not my own;
What’s freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

Roethke

And, finally, to end with an air of symmetry and a word of birthday advice from the great gaffer in the sky.

Balance

In crazy balance at the edge of Time
Our spent days turn to cloud behind today-
And all tomorrow is a prophet’s dream
This moment only rages endlessly
And prime
Is always the long moment of decay.

Mervyn Peake.

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