Collected Poems 1931-74

Collected Poems 1931-74 by Lawrence Durrell Read Free Book Online

Book: Collected Poems 1931-74 by Lawrence Durrell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lawrence Durrell
feathers
    By the ancient pillow with cold ankles?
    (Pity, my friend, fell in with the scorpion:
    Murder with his bottle took my sweet.)
    Who found passion without a leg,
    Shrieked like the canticle of a ghost?
    A bat spat his blood in the nursery:
    A vessel in darkness but without a compass.
    Anger first opened the book of the egg,
    A bible of broken boys and natural women.
    The choir sang like a bee in a bush,
    And hunger, the dog, hummed in his paws.
    Now time is wrapped in a green bay-leaf,
    And a Roman summer covers the underworld,
    O remember the heart hatched like cold stone,
    And love in a green leaf locked.
    1943/ 1 939
    1 Originally published as ‘The Ego’s Own Egg’.

A SMALL SCRIPTURE
    To Nancy
    (1939)
    Now when the angler by Bethlehem’s water
    Like a sad tree threw down his trance
    What good was the needle of resurrection,
    A bat-like soul for the father Adam,
    But to bury in haystacks of common argument
    The Fish’s living ordinance?
    A bleeding egg was the pain of testament,
    Murder of self within murder to reach the Self:
    The grapnel of fury like a husband’s razor
    Turned on his daughter in a weird enchantment
    To cut out the iron mask from the iron man,
    His double, the troubled elf.
    Now one eye was the cyclop’s monstrous ration,
    But this face looked forward to Heliopolis,
    Rehearsed its charm in other exilic lovers
    God-bound near Eden on the crutches of guilt;
    Aimed like a pistol through the yellow eyes—
    Your heart and mine know the truth of this.
    This we make to the double Jesus, the nonpareil,
    Whose thought snapped Jordan like a dam.
    Darling and bully with the bloody taws,
    Both walked in this tall queen by the green lake.
    Both married when the aching nail sank home.
    Weep for the lion, kneel to the lamb.
    1943/ 1 939

‘A SOLILOQUY OF HAMLET’
    Dedicated to Anne Ridler and the Lady in the Painting
Ophelia
    I
    Here on the curve of the embalming winter,
    Son of the three-legged stool and the Bible,
    By the trimmed lamp I cobble this sonnet
    For father, son, and the marble woman.
    Sire, we have found no pardonable city
    Though women harder than the kneeling nuns,
    Softer than clouds upon the stones of pain,
    Have breathed their blessings on a candle-end.
    Some who converted the English oak-trees:
    The harmless druids singing in green places.
    Some who broke their claws upon islands:
    The singing fathers in the boats of glory.
    Some who made an atlas of their hunger:
    The enchanted skulls lie under the lion’s paw.
II
    One innocent observer in a foreign cell
    Died when my father lay beside his ghost.
    Dumb poison in the hairy ear of kings
    Can map the nerves and halt the tick of hearts.
    The phoenix burning at his window-sill
    Put peace around him like a great basin.
    So whether the ocean curved beneath his dreams
    On floors full of the sea-shell’s music,
    His privacy aims like a pointed finger:
    Death grows like poison-ivy on a stick.
    Truly his unruly going grows like a green wand
    Between the broken pavements of the heart,
    And all whose blood ticks fast at funerals
    Must dread the tapping of the vellum drum.
III
    Guilt can lie heavier than house of tortoise.
    Winter and love, O desperate medicines,
    Under the turf we bless the wishing spring,
    The seed from the index-finger of the saint.
    To the snow I sing out this hoarse prescription:
    â€˜Sweet love, from the enduring geometric egg,
    An embryo grinning in its coloured cap,
    O I walk under a house of horn, seeking a door.’
    The charming groans of ladies come to me
    From the nursery sills of an invented climate:
    My outlawed mother patient at the loom,
    Behind her, oaks, their nude machinery,
    The dark ones shining on their snowy tuffets.
    I take this image on a screaming nib.
IV
    Here in the hollow curvature of the world,
    Now time turns through her angles on a dial,
    The unspeaking surgeon cuts beneath the fur,
    And pain forever green winds her pale horn.
    Make in the beautiful

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