The Quality Of Sprawl

Sprawl is the quality
of the man who cut down his Rolls-Royce
into a farm utility truck, and sprawl
is what the company lacked when it made repeated efforts
to buy the vehicle back and repair its image.

Sprawl is doing your farm work by aeroplane, roughly,
or driving a hitchhiker that extra hundred miles home.
It is the rococo of being your own still centre.
It is never lighting cigars with ten dollar notes:
that's idiot ostentation and murder of starving people.


The Poet

THEY tell you the poet is useless and empty the sound of his lyre,
That science has made him a phantom, and thinned to a shadow his fire:
Yet reformer has never demolished a dungeon or den of the foe
But the flame of the soul of a poet pulsated in every blow.

They tell you he hinders with tinklings, with gags from an obsolete stage,
The dramas of deed and the worship of Laws in a practical age:
But the deeds of to-day are the children of magical dreams he has sung,


The Poem of Zuhair

'Does the blackened ruin, situated in the stony ground between Durraj and Mutathallam, which did not speak to me, when addressed, belong to the abode of Ummi Awfa?

'And is it her dwelling at the two stony meadows, seeming as though they were the renewed tattoo marks in the sinews of the wrist?

'The wild cows and the white deer are wandering about there, one herd behind the other, while their young are springing up from every lying-down place.


The Poem of Imru al Qays

Stop, oh my friends, let us pause to weep over the remembrance of my beloved.
Here was her abode on the edge of the sandy desert between Dakhool and Howmal.


The traces of her encampment are not wholly obliterated even now.
For when the South wind blows the sand over them the North wind sweeps it away.


The courtyards and enclosures of the old home have become desolate;
The dung of the wild deer lies there thick as the seeds of pepper.



The Perch

There is a fork in a branch
of an ancient, enormous maple,
one of a grove of such trees,
where I climb sometimes and sit and look out
over miles of valleys and low hills.
Today on skis I took a friend
to show her the trees. We set out
down the road, turned in at
the lane which a few weeks ago,
when the trees were almost empty
and the November snows had not yet come,
lay thickly covered in bright red
and yellow leaves, crossed the swamp,
passed the cellar hole holding
the remains of the 1850s farmhouse


The Nithsdale Widow and Her Son

'Twas in the year of 1746, on a fine summer afternoon,
When trees and flowers were in full bloom,
That widow Riddel sat knitting stockings on a little rustic seat,
Which her only son had made for her, which was very neat.

The cottage she lived in was in the wilds of Nithsdale,
Where many a poor soul had cause to bewail
The loss of their shealings, that were burned to the ground,
By a party of fierce British dragoons that chanced to come round.

While widow Riddel sat in her garden she heard an unusual sound,


The Newcomer

'There's something new in the river,'
The fish said as it swam.
'It's got no scales, no fins and no gills,
And ignores the impassable dam.'

'There's something new in the trees.'
I heard a bloated thrush sing.
'It's got no beak, no claws, and no feathers,
And not even the ghost of a wing.'

'There's something new in the warren,'
Said the rabbit to the doe.
'It's got no fur, no eyes and no paws,
Yet digs further than we dare go.'

'There's something new in the whiteness,'


The New Dog

Into the gravity of my life,
the serious ceremonies
of polish and paper
and pen, has come

this manic animal
whose innocent disruptions
make nonsense
of my old simplicities--

as if I needed him
to prove again that after
all the careful planning,
anything can happen.


The Monument

Now can you see the monument? It is of wood
built somewhat like a box. No. Built
like several boxes in descending sizes
one above the other.
Each is turned half-way round so that
its corners point toward the sides
of the one below and the angles alternate.
Then on the topmost cube is set
a sort of fleur-de-lys of weathered wood,
long petals of board, pierced with odd holes,
four-sided, stiff, ecclesiastical.
From it four thin, warped poles spring out,
(slanted like fishing-poles or flag-poles)


The Modern Major-General

I am the very pattern of a modern Major-Gineral,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral;
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical;
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With interesting facts about the square of the hypotenuse,
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus,


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