The Airman Who Flew Over Shakespeare's England

- 1911-1962

A nation of hayricks spotting the green solace
          Of grass,
And thrones of thatch ruling a yellow kingdom
          Of barley.
In the green lands, the white nation of sheep.
          And the woodlands,
Red, the delicate tribes of roebuck, doe
          And fawn.
A senate of steeples guarding the slaty and gabled
          Shires,
While aloof the elder houses hold a secret
          Sceptre.
To the north, a wall touching two stone-grey reaches
          Of water;
A circle of stones; then to the south a chalk-white
          Stallion.
To the north, the wireless towers upon the cliff.
          Southward
The powerhouse, and monstrous constellations
          Of cities.
To the north, the pilgrims along the holy roads
          To Walsingham,
And southward, the road to Shottery, shining
          With daisies.
Over the castle of Warwick frightened birds
          Are fleeing,
And on the bridge, faces upturned to a roaring
          Falcon.

On Hearing That My Poems Were Being Studied in a Distant Place

What are they mumbling about me there?
"Here," they say, "he suffered; here was glad."
Are words clothes or the putting off of clothes?

The scene is as follows: my book is open
On thirty desks; the teacher expounds my life.
Outside the window the Pacific roars like a lion.

Beside which my small words rise and fall.
"In this alliteration a tower crashed."
Are words clothes or the putting off of clothes?

"Here, in the fisherman casting on the water,
He saw the end of the dreamer.
And in that image, death, naked."

Out of my life I fashioned a fistful of words.
When I opened my hand, they flew away.

For T.S.E. Only

You called me a name on such and such a day—
Do you remember?—you were speaking of Bleistein our brother,
The barbarian with the black cigar, and the pockets
Ringing with cash, and the eyes seeking Jerusalem,
Knowing they have been tricked. Come, brother Thomas,
We three must weep together for our exile.

I see the hunted look, the protestation,
The desperate seeking, the reticence and the brashness
Of the giver of laws to the worshippers of calves.
At times you speak as if the words were walls,
But your walls fell with mine to the torch of a Titus.
Come, let us weep together for our exile.

We two, no doubt, could accommodate ourselves:
We've both read Dante and we both dislike Chicago,
And both, you see, can be brutal—but you must bow down
To our brother Bleistein here, with the unaesthetic
Cigar and the somber look. Come, do so quickly,
For we must weep together for our exile.

O you may enwomb yourself in words or the Word
(The Word is a good refuge for people too proud
To swallow the milk of the mild Jesus' teaching),
Or a garden in Hampshire with a magic bird, or an old
Quotation from the Reverend Andrewes, yet someone or
     something

(Let us pause to weep together for our exile)

Will stick a needle in your balloon, Thomas.
Is it the shape that you saw upon the stair?
The four knights clanking toward the altar? the hidden
Card in the deck? the sinister man from Nippon?
The hordes on the eastern horizon? Come, brother Burbank,
And let us weep together for our exile.

In the time of sweet sighing you wept bitterly,
And now in the time of weeping you cannot weep.
Will you wait for the peace of the sailor with pearly bones?
Where is the refuge you thought you would find on the island
Where each man lives in his castle? O brother Thomas,
Come let us weep together for our exile.

You drew us first by your scorn, first by your wit;
Later for your own eloquent suffering.
We loved you first for the wicked things you wrote
Of those you acknowledged infinitely gentle.
Wit is the sin that you must expiate.
Bow down to them, and let us weep for our exile.

I see your words wrung out in pain, but never
The true compassion for creatures with you, that Dante
Knew in his nine hells. O eagle! master!
The eagle's ways of pride and scorn will not save
Though the voice cries loud in humility. Thomas, Thomas,
Come, let us pray together for our exile.

You, hypocrite lecteur! mon semblable! mon frère!

If Causality is Impossible, Genesis is Recurrent

The abrupt appearance of a yellow flower
Out of the perfect nothing, is miraculous.
The sum of Being, being discontinuous,
Must presuppose a God-out-of-the-box
Who makes a primal garden of each garden.
There is no change, but only re-creation
One step ahead. As in the cinema
Upon the screen, all motion is illusory.
So if your mind were keener and could clinch
More than its flitting beachhead in the Permanent,
You'd see a twinkling world flashing and dying
Projected out of a tireless, winking Eye
Opening and closing in immensity—
Creating, with its look, beside all else
Always Adamic passion and innocence
The bloodred apple or the yellow flower.