The Excesses Of God

Is it not by his high superfluousness we know
Our God? For to be equal a need
Is natural, animal, mineral: but to fling
Rainbows over the rain
And beauty above the moon, and secret rainbows
On the domes of deep sea-shells,
And make the necessary embrace of breeding
Beautiful also as fire,
Not even the weeds to multiply without blossom
Nor the birds without music:
There is the great humaneness at the heart of things,
The extravagant kindness, the fountain
Humanity can understand, and would flow likewise


The Eagle, The Sow, And The Cat

THE Queen of Birds, t'encrease the Regal Stock,
Had hatch'd her young Ones in a stately Oak,
Whose Middle-part was by a Cat possest,
And near the Root with Litter warmly drest,
A teeming Sow had made her peaceful Nest.
(Thus Palaces are cramm'd from Roof to Ground,
And Animals, as various, in them found.)
When to the Sow, who no Misfortune fear'd,
Puss with her fawning Compliments appear'd,
Rejoicing much at her Deliv'ry past,
And that she 'scap'd so well, who bred so fast.


The Distant Winter

from an officer's diary during the last war

I

The sour daylight cracks through my sleep-caked lids.
"Stephan! Stephan!" The rattling orderly
Comes on a trot, the cold tray in his hands:
Toast whitening with oleo, brown tea,

Yesterday's napkins, and an opened letter.
"Your asthma's bad, old man." He doesn't answer,
And turns to the grey windows and the weather.
"Don't worry, Stephan, the lungs will go to cancer."

II

I speak, "the enemy's exhausted, victory


The Creation of the Moon

The man cut his throat and left his head there.
The others went to get it.
When they got there they put the head in a sack.
Farther on the head fell out onto the ground.
They put the head back in the sack.
Farther on the head fell out again.
Around the first sack they put a second one that
was thicker.
But the head fell out just the same.
It should be explained that they were taking the head
to show to the others.
They did not put the head back in the sack.
They left it in the middle of the road.


The Condemned

There is a wildness still in England that will not feed
In cages; it shrinks away from the touch of the trainer's hand,
Easy to kill, not easy to tame. It will never breed
In a zoo for the public pleasure. It will not be planned.

Do not blame us too much if we that are hedgerow folk
Cannot swell the rejoicings at this new world you make -
We, hedge-hogged as Johnson or Borrow, strange to the yoke
As Landor, surly as Cobbett (that badger), birdlike as Blake.

A new scent troubles the air -- to you, friendly perhaps


The Circus Animals' Desertion

I

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.

II

What can I but enumerate old themes?
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,


The Combat

It was not meant for human eyes,
That combat on the shabby patch
Of clods and trampled turf that lies
Somewhere beneath the sodden skies
For eye of toad or adder to catch.

And having seen it I accuse
The crested animal in his pride,
Arrayed in all the royal hues
Which hide the claws he well can use
To tear the heart out of the side.

Body of leopard, eagle's head
And whetted beak, and lion's mane,
And frost-grey hedge of feathers spread
Behind -- he seemed of all things bred.


The City of the Dead XX

Yesterday I drew myself from the noisome throngs and proceeded into the field until I reached a knoll upon which Nature had spread her comely garments. Now I could breathe.

I looked back, and the city appeared with its magnificent mosques and stately residences veiled by the smoke of the shops.


The Ballad Of Casey's Billy-Goat

You've heard of "Casey at The Bat,"
And "Casey's Tabble Dote";
But now it's time
To write a rhyme
Of "Casey's Billy-goat."

Pat Casey had a billy-goat he gave the name of Shamus,
Because it was (the neighbours said) a national disgrace.
And sure enough that animal was eminently famous
For masticating every rag of laundry round the place.
For shirts to skirts prodigiously it proved its powers of chewing;
The question of digestion seemed to matter not at all;


The Art of the Lathe

Leonardo imagined the first one.
The next was a pole lathe with a drive cord,
illustrated in Plumier's L'art de tourner en perfection.
Then Ramsden, Vauconson, the great Maudslay,
his student Roberts, Fox, Clement, Whitworth.

The long line of machinists to my left
lean into their work, ungloved hands adjusting the calipers,
tapping the bit lightly with their fingertips.
Each man withdraws into his house of work:
the rough cut, shearing of iron by tempered steel,
blue-black threads lifting like locks of hair,


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