Edgar Degas's painting 'Singer In Green'
No earthly power can tear them...
And only light substantiates
Their song. - Mike Finley
for James Tolan
with deep bows
to Louis Zukofsky,
[Asterisks denote footnotes]
Death is a conundrum..
It is beauty to those that require it.
Pain to those whose watch it
Relief to those want it
aFear, hope and light.. all in one!
“Please let my hair grow, Mother, don’t cut it.
A trimmed tree
Is no place for song birds.”
My Mama never cut my hair
But for once, when I was a girl
And it had become a knotted rope.
A nest had formed, beyond untangling,
And it had to be cut out,
Although the song birds had already
Found its shelter.
One by one I had to let them go,
Say goodbye to song.
Sad is the plight of Giant Despair,
In Doubting Castle sick lies he!
The castle is built on a headland bare,
And looks on the wash of a whirling Sea.
With the noise in his ears and the gleam in his eyes
Of the breaking waves that beneath him beat,
Propt on pillows the Giant lies,
Pillowed, too, are his gouty feet.
In and out the Leeches of Souls
Run and chatter and prate and pray —
But the great wind wails and the thunder rolls:
None may banish his gloom away.
A mourning woman, robed in black,
Stands in the twilight, looking back;
Her hand is one her heart, her head
Bends musingly above the Dead,
Her face is plain, and pinch'd, and thin,
But splendour strikes it from within.
" B ARBARA Gray !
Pause, and remember what the world will say,"
I cried, and turning on the threshold fled,
When he was breathing on his dying bed;
But when, with heart grown bold,
I cross'd the threshold cold,
Here lay John Hamerton, and he was dead.
Apotheosis Of The Sword
The First Day
( RENAISSANCE .)
The Widow: A War Song
" Stand, Watchman, on the Castle height,
And southward gaze for me,
Beyond the day, across the night,
And say — What dost thou see?"
" I see the clouds of battle lower,
Our hosts flock forth to slay! ...
The Widow, in her Palace bower,
Stood listening, old and gray.
Uunder green branches I lie,
Pensive, I know not why;
All is dead calm down here;
But yonder, tho' heaven smiles clear,
Bright winds blow, and silent and slow
The vaporous Clouds sail by.
For the branches, that here and there
Grow yellow in autumn air,
Are parted; and through the rent
Of a flower-enwoven tent,
The round blue eye of the peaceful sky
Shows tearless, quiet, and fair.