Philip Larkin: Sad Steps

Groping back to bed after a piss
I part thick curtains, and am startled by
The rapid clouds, the moon’s cleanliness.

 

Four o’clock: wedge-shadowed gardens lie
Under a cavernous, a wind-picked sky.
There’s something laughable about this,

 

The way the moon dashes through clouds that blow
Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart
(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)

 

High and preposterous and separate—
Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,

 

One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare

 

Is a reminder of the strength and pain
Of being young; that it can’t come again,
But is for others undiminished somewhere.
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Ted Hughes: Dreamers

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Dreamers

We didn’t find her – she found us.
She sniffed us out. The Fate she carried
Sniffed us out
And assembled us, inert ingredients
For its experiment. The Fable she carried
Requisitioned you and me and her,
Puppets for its performance.

She fascinated you. Her eyes caressed you,
Melted a weeping glitter at you.
Her German the dark undercurrent
In her Kensington jeweller’s elocution
Was your ancestral Black Forest whisper –
Edged with a greasy, death-camp, soot-softness.
When she suddenly rounded her eyeballs,
Popped them, strangled, she shocked you.
lt was her mock surprise.
But you saw hanged women choke, dumb, through her,
And when she listened, watching you, through smoke,
Her black-ringed grey iris, slightly unnatural,
Was Black Forest wolf, a witch’s daughter
out of Grimm.

Warily you cultivated her,
Her jewishness, her many-blooded beauty,
As if your dream of your dream-self stood there,
A glittering blackness, Europe’s mystical jewel.
A creature from beyond the fringe of your desk-lamp.
Who was this Lilith of abortions
Touching the hair of your children
With tiger-painted nails?

Her speech Harrods, Hitlers mutilations
Kept you company, weeding the onions.
An ex-Nazi Youth Sabra. Her father
Doctor to the Bolshoi Ballet.

She was helpless too.
None of us could wake up.
Nightmare looked out at the poppies.
She sat there, in her soot-wet mascara,
In flame-orange silks, in gold bracelets,
Slightly filthy with erotic mystery –
A German
Russian Israeli with the gaze of a demon
Between curtains of black Mongolian hair.

After a single night under our roof
She told her dream. A giant fish, a pike
Had a globed, golden eye, and in that eye
A throbbing suman foetus –
You were astonished, maybe envious.

I refused to interpret. I saw
The dreamer in her
Had fallen in love with me and she did not know it.
That moment the dreamer in me
Fell in love with her, and I knew it.

Philip Larkin: The Mower

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The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed.  It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably.  Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

Rhiannon Dance: Necrophagy I

 

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Singed tips of a wormed mass
fester beneath thatch and flake,
a face turns to dust as a thousand
electrifying ants crawl.

Arm raised to heaven and bereft
of any feeling; the monthly terror,
pulling at eye sockets and nerve endings
locusts and crickets festival.

Cricket bat racquet hand reaches uncertainly
for a link to cry for help,
useless digits blunder and surrender to
a swarm of wasps in my head.