Poem in 1944

No, I cannot write the poem of war,
Neither the colossal dying nor the local scene,
A platoon asleep and dreaming of girls' warmth
Or by the petrol-cooker scraping out a laughter.
-- Only the images that are not even nightmare:
A globe encrusted with a skin of seaweed,
Or razors at the roots. The heart is no man's prism
To cast a frozen shadow down the streaming future;
At most a cold slipstream of empty sorrow,
The grapes and melody of a dreamed love
Or a vague roar of courage.

No, I am not
The meeting point of event and vision, where the poem
Bursts into flame, and the heart's engine
Takes on the load of these broken years and lifts it.
I am not even the tongue and the hand that write
The dissolving sweetness of a personal view
Like those who now in greater luck and liberty
Are professionally pitiful or heroic. . . .

Into what eye to imagine the vista pouring
Its violent treasures? For I must believe
That somewhere the poet is working who can handle
The flung world and his own heart. To him I say
The little I can. I offer him the debris
Of five years' undirected storm in self and Europe,
And my love. Let him take it for what it's worth
In this poem scarcely made and already forgotten.

-47-

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Poems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • I - Persons and Places 1
  • Nantucket 3
  • Guided Missiles Experimental Range 4
  • To a Girl Who Dreamt About a Poem 12
  • The Landing in Deucalion 13
  • Adriatic 14
  • A Woman Poet 16
  • The Death of Hart Crane 19
  • Anthéor 20
  • II - Arts and Contexts 23
  • Poem for Julian Symons 25
  • The Rokeby Venus 26
  • Significant Form 27
  • A Painting by Paul Klee 28
  • Dédée D'Anvers 29
  • A Level of Abstraction 30
  • Reading Poetry After a Quarrel 33
  • The Psychokinetic Experiments of Professor Rhine 34
  • Epistemology of Poetry 35
  • Mating Season 36
  • Humanities 37
  • Another Klee 38
  • 'Head of a Faun' by Salvator Rosa 39
  • A Problem 40
  • III - War and After 43
  • Possilipo: 1944 45
  • Love and War 46
  • Poem in 1944 47
  • Caserta 48
  • A Minor Front 49
  • Arion 51
  • On the Danube 52
  • Lament for a Landing Craft 54
  • IV - The Balkans 55
  • Sunset Under Vitosha - For T. 57
  • Near Sliven 58
  • Lamartine at Philippopolis 59
  • Pliska 60
  • Aegean 61
  • Messemvria at Noon 62
  • By Rail Through Istria 64
  • In the Rhodope 66
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