The Flight Of The Duchess

I.

You're my friend:
I was the man the Duke spoke to;
I helped the Duchess to cast off his yoke, too;
So here's the tale from beginning to end,
My friend!

II.

Ours is a great wild country:
If you climb to our castle's top,
I don't see where your eye can stop;
For when you've passed the cornfield country,
Where vineyards leave off, flocks are packed,
And sheep-range leads to cattle-tract,
And cattle-tract to open-chase,
And open-chase to the very base


The Far Field

I

I dream of journeys repeatedly:
Of flying like a bat deep into a narrowing tunnel
Of driving alone, without luggage, out a long peninsula,
The road lined with snow-laden second growth,
A fine dry snow ticking the windshield,
Alternate snow and sleet, no on-coming traffic,
And no lights behind, in the blurred side-mirror,
The road changing from glazed tarface to a rubble of stone,
Ending at last in a hopeless sand-rut,
Where the car stalls,
Churning in a snowdrift
Until the headlights darken.


The Enemies Of The Little Box

Don't box down to the little box
Which supposedly contains everything
Your star and all other stars

Empty yourself
In her emptiness

Take two nails out of her
And give them to the owners
To eat

Make a hold in her middle
And stick on your clapper

Fill her with blueprints
And the skin of her craftsmen
And trample on her with both feet

Tie her to a cat's tail
And chase the cat

Don't bow down to the little box
If you do


The End Of The Library

When the coal
Gave out, we began
Burning the books, one by one;
First the set
Of Bulwer-Lytton
And then the Walter Scott.
They gave a lot of warmth.
Toward the end, in
February, flames
Consumed the Greek
Tragedians and Baudelaire,
Proust, Robert Burton
And the Po-Chu-i. Ice
Thickened on the sills.
More for the sake of the cat,
We said, than for ourselves,
Who huddled, shivering,
Against the stove
All winter long.


The Dreamer

The lone man gazed and gazed upon his gold,
His sweat, his blood, the wage of weary days;
But now how sweet, how doubly sweet to hold
All gay and gleamy to the campfire blaze.
The evening sky was sinister and cold;
The willows shivered, wanly lay the snow;
The uncommiserating land, so old,
So worn, so grey, so niggard in its woe,
Peered through its ragged shroud. The lone man sighed,
Poured back the gaudy dust into its poke,
Gazed at the seething river listless-eyed,
Loaded his corn-cob pipe as if to smoke;


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 duel

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,


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 Deficit Demon

It was the lunatic poet escaped from the local asylum,
Loudly he twanged on his banjo and sang with his voice like a saw-mill,
While as with fervour he sang there was borne o'er the shuddering wildwood,
Borne on the breath of the poet a flavour of rum and of onions.
He sang of the Deficit Demon that dqelt in the Treasury Mountains,
How it was small in its youth and a champion was sent to destroy it:
Dibbs he was salled, and he boasted, "Soon I will wipe out the Monster,"


The Curtain

Just over the horizon a great machine of death is roaring and

rearing.
One can hear it always. Earthquake, starvation, the ever-

renewing field of corpse-flesh.
In this valley the snow falls silently all day and out our window
We see the curtain of it shifting and folding, hiding us away in

our little house,
We see earth smoothened and beautified, made like a fantasy, the

snow-clad trees
So graceful in a dream of peace. In our new bed, which is big


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