Night Songs

Thomas Kinsella

1

Now, as I sink in sleep,
My heart is cut down,
Nothing—poetry nor love—
Achieving.

*

Turns again in my room,
The crippled leopard.
Paw-pad, configured
Yellow light of his eyes,
Pass, repass, repass.
Quiet, my hand; he is tame.
Soon, while I dream, will step
And stir the sunken dawn.

2

Before I woke there entered in
A woman with a golden skin
That tangled with the light.
A tang of orchards climbed the stair
And dwindled in the waxen air,
Crisping the midnight,
And the white pillows of my bed
On apple-tasted darkness fed.
Weakened with appetite
Sleep broke like a dish wherein
A woman lay with golden skin.

More by Thomas Kinsella

Drowsing over The Arabian Nights

I nodded. The books agree,
one hopes for too much.
It is ridiculous.
We are elaborate beasts.

If we concur it is only
in our hunger: the soiled gullet.
And sleep’s airy nothing.
And the moist matter of lust

—if the whole waste of women
could be gathered like one pit
under swarming Man,
then all might act together.

And the agonies of death,
as we enter our endless nights
quickly, one by one, fire
darting up to the roots of our hair.