VARIATIONS ON MY LIFE

THE SECOND

. . .Or to return
To the first loved friend, you
Whose life seemed most unlike my own
As though you existed on an island
In seas of an archaic time,
Hidden under birdsong and olive trees,
With eyes chiselled to reflect the sky,
And behind the blue the clear flame,
And the hoarded quietness
Of summer at evening that surrounds a wood
Loaded with thunder,
Whose gentleness withholds the trigger
Night and tiger.

If I could return
And with a gained balance of happiness,
The scales of a golden success,
Smile and reassure you and undo the unhappiness
I wound around us then;
If I had a common Midas touch,

-93-

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The Still Centre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Foreword 9
  • Contents 13
  • PART ONE 15
  • Polar Exploration 17
  • Easter Monday 19
  • Experience 21
  • Exiles from Their Land, History Their Domicile 23
  • The Past Values 26
  • An Elementary School Class Room in a Slum 28
  • The Uncreating Chaos 30
  • PART TWO 35
  • Hoelderlin's Old Age 37
  • Hampstead Autumn 38
  • In the Street 39
  • The Room Above the Square 40
  • The Marginal Field 41
  • A Footnote 43
  • Thoughts During an Air Raid 45
  • View from a Train 46
  • The Midlands Express 47
  • The Indifferent One 48
  • Three Days 50
  • PART THREE 53
  • Two Armies 55
  • Ultima Ratio Regum 57
  • The Coward 59
  • A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map 61
  • War Photograph 62
  • Sonnet 64
  • Fall of a City 65
  • At Castellon 67
  • The Bombed Happiness 69
  • Bort Bou 71
  • PART FOUR 75
  • Darkness and Light 77
  • The Human Situation 79
  • The Separation 83
  • Two Kisses 86
  • The Little Coat 87
  • Variations on My Life 89
  • Variations on My Life 93
  • Napoleon in 1814 96
  • The Mask 101
  • Houses at Edge of Railway Lines 103
  • To a Spanish Poet (for Manuel Altolaguirre) 105
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