13 June 2008

Laura Riding

[from Laura Riding's The Poems of Laura Riding, editor Mark Jacobs, 2001]

The Wind, The Clock, The We

The wind has at last got into the clock –
Every minute for itself.
There’s no more sixty,
There’s no more twelve,
It’s as late as it’s early.

The rain has washed out the numbers.
The trees don’t care what happens.
Time has become a landscape
Of suicidal leaves and stoic branches –
Unpainted as fast as painted.
Or perhaps that’s too much to say,
With the clock devouring itself
And the minutes given leave to die.

The sea’s no picture at all.
To sea, then: that’s time now,
And every mortal heart’s a sailor
Sworn to vengeance on the wind,
To hurl life back into the thin teeth
Out of which first it whistled,
An idiotic defiance of it knew not what
Screeching round the studying clock.

Now there’s neither ticking nor blowing.
The ship has gone down with its men,
The sea with the ship, the wind with the sea.
The wind at last got into the clock,
The clock at last got into the wind,
The world at last got out of myself.

At last we can make sense, you and I,
You lone survivors on paper,
The wind’s boldness and the clock’s care
Become a voiceless language,
And I the story hushed in it –
Is more to say of me?
Do I say more than self-choked falsity
Can repeat word for word after me,
The script not altered by a breath
Of perhaps meaning otherwise?

The Poems of Laura Riding: A Newly Revised Edition of the 1938/1980 Collection, Revised Edition

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