Poems

Image courtesy of Silvia Sala under licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

 

 

 

 

 

Infanta Marina

Her terrace was the sand

And the palms and the twilight.

 

She made of the motions of her wrist

The grandiose gestures

Of her thought.

 

The rumpling of the plumes

Of this creature of the evening

Came to be sleights of sails

Over the sea.

 

And thus she roamed

In the roamings of her fan,

 

Partaking of the sea,

And of the evening,

As they flowed around

And uttered their subsiding sound.


Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself

 

At the earliest ending of winter,

In March, a scrawny cry from outside

Seemed like a sound in his mind.

 

He knew that he heard it,

A bird’s cry at daylight or before,

In the early March wind.

 

The sun was rising at six,

No longer a battered panache above snow . . .

It would have been outside.

 

It was not from the vast ventriloquism

Of sleep’s faded papier mâché . . .

The sun was coming from outside.

 

That scrawny cry—it was

A chorister whose c preceded the choir.

It was part of the colossal sun,

 

Surrounded by its choral rings,

Still far away. It was like

A new knowledge of reality.


Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

 

Light the first light of evening, as in a room

In which we rest and, for small reason, think

The world imagined is the ultimate good.

 

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.

It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,

Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

 

Within a single thing, a single shawl

Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,

A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

 

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.

We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,

A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

 

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.

We say God and the imagination are one…

How high that highest candle lights the dark.

 

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,

We make a dwelling in the evening air,

In which being there together is enough.


The Idea of Order at Key West

 

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.

The water never formed to mind or voice,

Like a body wholly body, fluttering

Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion

Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,

That was not ours although we understood,

Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

 

The sea was not a mask. No more was she.

The song and water were not medleyed sound

Even if what she sang was what she heard,

Since what she sang was uttered word by word.

It may be that in all her phrases stirred

The grinding water and the gasping wind;

But it was she and not the sea we heard.

 

For she was the maker of the song she sang.

The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea

Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.

Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew

It was the spirit that we sought and knew

That we should ask this often as she sang.

 

If it was only the dark voice of the sea

That rose, or even colored by many waves;

If it was only the outer voice of sky

And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,

However clear, it would have been deep air,

The heaving speech of air, a summer sound

Repeated in a summer without end

And sound alone. But it was more than that,

More even than her voice, and ours, among

The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,

Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped

On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres

Of sky and sea.

It was her voice that made

The sky acutest at its vanishing.

She measured to the hour its solitude.

She was the single artificer of the world

In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,

Whatever self it had, became the self

That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,

As we beheld her striding there alone,

Knew that there was never a world for her

Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

 

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,

Why, when the singing ended and we turned

Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,

The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,

As the night descended, tilting in the air,

Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,

Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,

Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

 

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,

The maker’s rage to order words of sea

Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,

And of ourselves and our origins,

In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

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