EPITAPH FOR LIBERAL POETS

If in the latter
End--which is fairly soon--our way of life goes west
And some shall say So What and some What Matter,
Ready under new names to exploit or be exploited,
What, though better unsaid, would we have history say
Of us who walked in our sleep and died on our Quest?

We who always had, but never admitted, a master,
Who were expected--and paid--to be ourselves,
Conditioned to think freely, how can we
Patch up our broken hearts and modes of thought in plaster
And glorify in chromium-plated stories
Those who shall supersede us and cannot need us--
The tight-lipped technocratic Conquistadores?

The Individual has died before; Catullus
Went down young, gave place to those who were born old
And more adaptable and were not even jealous
Of his wild life and lyrics. Though our songs
Were not so warm as his, our fate is no less cold.

Such silence then before us, pinned against the wall,
Why need we whine? There is no way out, the birds
Will tell us nothing more; we shall vanish first,
Yet leave behind us certain frozen words
Which some day, though not certainly, may melt
And, for a moment or two, accentuate a thirst.

-39-

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Springboard: 1941-1944
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Note 7
  • I 11
  • Prayer Before Birth 13
  • Precursors 15
  • Explorations 16
  • Mutations 17
  • Brother Fire 18
  • The Trolls 19
  • Troll's Courtship 22
  • Convoy 24
  • Sentries 25
  • Whit Monday 26
  • Swing-Song 27
  • Bottleneck 28
  • Neutrality 29
  • The Conscript 30
  • Nuts in May 31
  • The Mixer 32
  • Nostalgia 33
  • Babel 34
  • Schizophrene 35
  • Alcohol 37
  • The Libertine 38
  • Epitaph for Liberal Poets 39
  • The Satirist 40
  • This Way Out 41
  • Thyestes 42
  • Prayer in Mid-Passage 43
  • Prospect 44
  • The Springboard 45
  • II 47
  • The Casualty (in Memoriam G.H.S.) 49
  • The News-Reel 53
  • The Kingdom 54
  • Postscript 63
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