Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Lawrence Ferlinghetti ( b.24/3/19 ) - POET AS FISHERMAN / SPIRIT OF THE CRUSADES


As I grow older I percieve
Life has its tail in its mouth
and other poets other painters
are no longer any kind of competition
Its the sky that's the challenge
the sky that still needs deciphering
even as astronomers strain to hear it
with their huge electric ears
the sky that whispers to us constantly
the final secrets of the universe
the sky that breathes in and out
as if it were the inside of a mouth
of the cosmos
the sky that is the land's edge also
and the sea's edge also
the sky with its many voices and no god
the sky that engulfs a sea of sound
and echoes it back to us
as in a wave against a seawall
Whole poems whole dictionaries
rolled up in a thunderclap
And every sunset an action painting
and every cloud a book of shadows
through which wildly fly
the vowels of birds about to cry
And the sky is clear to the fisherman
even if overcast
He  sees it for what it is :
a mirror of the sea
about to fall on him
in his wood boat on the dark horizon
We have to think of him as the poet
forever face to face with old reality
where no birds fly before a storm
And he knows what's coming down
before the dawn
and he's his own best lookout
listening for the sound of the universe
and singing out his sightings
of the land of the living.


Stoney Wales
with its slate-grey roofs
in slate-grey Cardiff
and its greystone houses on greystone terraces
and its great high statue of
"The Spirit of the Crusades"
in the Wales National Museum
portraying a medieval knight
in grey metal armor and helmet
with visor down
on a great grey steed
with four grey foot soldiers
in close march abouthim
(two at the head of the horse
two behind)
wearing World War One helmets
and carrying World War One rifles
with fixed bayonets
And the Crusades are over
but they are still marching
over the grey sea-locked land
in a dead march
straight through the twentieth century

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