Monday, 17 September 2012

Jack Clemo (11/3/1916- 35/7/94) - Outsider

                                          image, Tricia Porter, National Portrait Galllery
                                                                            1975

Outsider

You are so civilised, so alert
In your tunnel, arching the drilled brain;
So  desterous in control
Of the tricky signals, the obvious gain.
I am outside, a truant soul,
Deep in the Word, stung by the dirt
Of primal clues which you disdain.

I cannot be a comrade
To you who claim your victory
In affliction's craft and trade.
I am angry with your tunnel life,
For a free wind, out here, storms the base
Of resignation, topples the perch of suffering.
Slits like a knife
The bladdered boast, the wan, competent face;
And it seeks you also, but you hide from its sting.

I pioneer for you,
But the gulf is too wide
And you cannot see my clue.
I do not have to overcome,
I do not face the worst, I do not accept:
I just speed home
With no flakes of darkness admitted or defied.

Your skilled courage is not for me:
I have overstepped.
By God's grace, some mark or boundary
Where faith branches higher
And its vagabond thrills never cool.
I am wild with expectation, full of strange fire
That would scorch a mundane tool.

You miss that fire through your efficiency:
Your triumphs only prove
You are too sleek for miracle. It takes
An unkempt faith to make a mountain move:
Unsheltered savage trust, bare to the mud,
Till your ego's clay-seam quakes
And the kingdom seethes in your blood.
This fierce old pilgrim's way I have known,
But you despise it, so I sing alone.

Reprinted from Penguin Modern Poets 6
Jack Clemo, Edward Lucie-Smith, George MacBeth
1964


On a personal note I lost my faith many moons ago
but still believe in tomorrow, but hey that's another story.

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