Siegfried Sassoon: Alone

I’ve listened: and all the sounds I heard
Were music,—wind, and stream, and bird.
With youth who sang from hill to hill
I’ve listened: my heart is hungry still.

I’ve looked: the morning world was green;
Bright roofs and towers of town I’ve seen;
And stars, wheeling through wingless night.
I’ve looked: and my soul yet longs for light.

I’ve thought: but in my sense survives
Only the impulse of those lives
That were my making. Hear me say
‘I’ve thought!’—and darkness hides my day.

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.

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.

Interpol: The Scale

I have a sequin for an eye
Pick a rose and hide my face
This is the bandit’s life
It comes and goes and them’s the breaks
Under a molten sky, beyond the road, we lie in wait
You think they know us now?
Wait ’til the stars come out
You see that
Well, I made you and now I take you back
It’s too late but today I can define the lack
I made you and now I take you back

Sun, you sleep in clouds of fire
That’s all and that’s right
My sun, you sleep in clouds of fire
That’s all and that’s right

I can still feel it when you lie
Pick a rose just to hide my face
Well, if there’s something I should know
I seek no science when there is no shape
Under a molten sky, let the days collide
Well, I made you and now I take you back

Sun, you sleep in clouds of fire
That’s all and that’s right
My sun, you sleep in clouds of fire
That’s all and that’s right

Rhiannon Dance: Type II

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Everyone at the hotel
has Diabetes.
The men are turgid pate,
women floppy fleshed and flapping.

The Diabetes may not
have been diagnosed,
but lurks in sugary
crimson slides.

Blood struggles to extremities,
clotting and clarty in tubes
destroyed by years of
beige abuse.

Everyone at the hotel
has Diabetes.
Waxen grey happiness,
sweet fate.