Simultaneously, as soundlessly,
Spontaneously, suddenly
As, at the vaunt of the dawn, the kind
Gates of the body fly open
To its world beyond, the gates of the mind,
The horn gate and the ivory gate
Swing to, swing shut, instantaneously
Quell the nocturnal rummage
Of its rebellious fronde, ill-favored,
Ill-natured and second-rate,
Disenfranchised, widowed and orphaned
By an historical mistake:
Recalled from the shades to be a seeing being,
From absence to be on display,
Without a name or history I wake
Between my body and the day.

Holy this moment, wholly in the right,
As, in complete obedience
To the light's laconic outcry, next
As a sheet, near as a wall,
Out there as a mountain's poise of stone,
The world is present, about,
And I know that I am, here, not alone
But with a world and rejoice
Unvexed, for the will has still to claim
This adjacent arm as my own,
The memory to name me, resume
Its routine of praise and blame
And smiling to me is this instant while
Still the day is intact, and I
The Adam sinless in our beginning,
Adam still previous to any act.

I draw breath; this is of course to wish
No matter what, to be wise,
To be different, to die and the cost,
No matter how, is Paradise
Lost of course and myself owing a death:
The eager ridge, the steady sea,
The flat roofs of the fishing village
Still asleep in its bunny,
Though as fresh and sunny still are not friends
But things to hand, this ready flesh
No honest equal, but my accomplice now
My assassin to be, and my name
Stands for my historical share of care
For a lying self-made city,
Afraid of our living task, the dying
Which the coming day will ask.


After shaking paws with his dog,
(Whose bark would tell the world that he is always kind,)
The hangman sets off briskly over the heath;
He does not know yet who will be provided
To do the high works of Justice with:
Gently closing the door of his wife's bedroom,
(Today she has one of her headaches)
With a sigh the judge descends his marble stair;
He does not know by what sentence
He will apply on earth the Law that rules the stars:
And the poet, taking a breather
Round his garden before starting his eclogue,
Does not know whose Truth he will tell.

Sprites of hearth and store-room, godlings
Of professional mysteries, the Big Ones
Who can annihilate a city,
Cannot be bothered with this moment: we are left,
Each to his secret cult, now each of us
Prays to an image of his image of himself:
'Let me get through this coming day
Without a dressing down from a superior,
Being worsted in a repartee,
Or behaving like an ass in front of the girls;
Let something exciting happen,
Let me find a lucky coin on a sidewalk.
Let me hear a new funny story.'

At this hour we all might be anyone:
It is only our victim who is without a wish
Who knows already (that is what
We can never forgive. If he knows the answers,
Then why are we here, why is there even dust?)
Knows already that, in fact, our prayers are heard,
That not one of us will slip up,
That the machinery of our world will function
Without a hitch, that today, for once,
There will be no squabbling on Mount Olympus,
No Chthonian mutters of unrest,
But no other miracle, knows that by sundown
We shall have had a good Friday.



You need not see what someone is doing
to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes:
a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,
a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression,
forgetting themselves in a function.

How beautiful it is,
that eye-on-the-object look.

To ignore the appetitive goddesses,
to desert the formidable shrines

of Rhea, Aphrodite, Demeter, Diana,
to pray instead to St. Phocas,

St Barbara, San Saturnino,
or whoever one's patron is,

that one may be worthy of their mystery,
what a prodigious step to have taken.

There should be monuments, there should be odes,
to the nameless heroes who took it first,

to the first flaker of flints
who forgot his dinner,

the first collector of sea-shells
to remain celibate.

Where should we be but for them?
Feral still, un-housetrained, still

wandering through forests without
a consonant to our names,

slaves of Dame Kind, lacking
all notion of a city

and, at this noon, for this death,
there would be no agents.


You need not hear what orders he is giving
to know if someone has authority,

you have only to watch his mouth:
when a besieging general sees

a city wall breached by his troops,
when a bacteriologist

realizes in a flash what was wrong
with his hypothesis when,

from a glance at the jury, the prosecutor
knows the defendant will hang,

their lips and the lines around them
relax, assuming an expression

not of simple pleasure at getting
their own sweet way but of satisfaction

at being right, an incarnation
of Fortitudo, Justicia, Nous.

You may not like them much
(Who does?) but we owe them

basilicas, divas,
dictionaries, pastoral verse,

the courtesies of the city:
without these judicial mouths

(which belong for the most part
to very great scoundrels)

how squalid existence would be,
tethered for life to some hut village,

afraid of the local snake
or the local ford demon

speaking the local patois
of some three hundred words

(think of the family squabbles and the
poison-pens, think of the inbreeding)

at this noon, there would be no authority
to command this death.


Anywhere you like, somewhere
on broad-chested life-giving Earth,

anywhere between her thirstlands
and undrinkable Ocean,

the crowd stands perfectly still,
its eyes (which seem one) and its mouths

(which seem infinitely many)
expressionless, perfectly blank.

The crowd does not see (what everyone sees)
a boxing match, a train wreck,

a battleship being launched,
does not wonder (as everyone wonders)

who will win, what flag she will fly,
how many will be burned alive,

is never distracted
(as everyone is always distracted)

by a barking dog, a smell of fish,
a mosquito on a bald head:

the crowd sees only one thing
(which only the crowd can see)

an epiphany of that
which does whatever is done.

Whatever god a person believes in,
in whatever way he believes,

(no two are exactly alike)
as one of the crowd he believes

and only believes in that
in which there is only one way of believing.

Few people accept each other and most
will never do anything properly,

but the crowd rejects no one, joining the crowd
is the only thing all men can do.

Only because of that can we say
all men are our brothers,

superior, because of that,
to the social exoskeletons: When

have they ever ignored their queens,
for one second stopped work

on their provincial cities, to worship
The Prince of this world like us,

at this noon, on this hill,
in the occasion of this dying.


What we know to be not possible,
Though time after time foretold
By wild hermits, by shaman and sybil
Gibbering in their trances,
Or revealed to a child in some chance rhyme
Like will and kill, comes to pass
Before we realize it: we are surprised
At the ease and speed of our deed
And uneasy: It is barely three,
Mid-afternoon, yet the blood
Of our sacrifice is already
Dry on the grass; we are not prepared
For silence so sudden and so soon;
The day is too hot, too bright, too still,
Too ever, the dead remains too nothing.
What shall we do till nightfall?

The wind has dropped and we have lost our public.
The faceless many who always
Collect when any world is to be wrecked,
Blown up, burnt down, cracked open,
Felled, sawn in two, hacked through, torn apart,
Have all melted away: not one
Of these who in the shade of walls and trees
Lie sprawled now, calmly sleeping,
Harmless as sheep, can remember why
He shouted or what about
So loudly in the sunshine this morning;
All if challenged would reply
-'It was a monster with one red eye,
A crowd that saw him die, not I.-
The hangman has gone to wash, the soldiers to eat;
We are left alone with our feat.

The Madonna with the green woodpecker,
The Madonna of the fig-tree,
The Madonna beside the yellow dam,
Turn their kind faces from us
And our projects under construction,
Look only in one direction,
Fix their gaze on our completed work:
Pile-driver, concrete-mixer,
Crane and pick-axe wait to be used again,
But how can we repeat this?
Outliving our act, we stand where we are,
As disregarded as some
Discarded artifact of our own,
Like torn gloves, rusted kettles,
Abandoned branch-lines, worn lop-sided
Grindstones buried in nettles.

This mutilated flesh, our victim,
Explains too nakedly, too well,
The spell of the asparagus garden,
The aim of our chalk-pit game; stamps,
Birds' eggs are not the same, behind the wonder
Of tow-paths and sunken lanes,
Behind the rapture on the spiral stair,
We shall always now be aware
Of the deed into which they lead, under
The mock chase and mock capture,
The racing and tussling and splashing,
The panting and the laughter,
Be listening for the cry and stillness
To follow after: wherever
The sun shines, brooks run, books are written,
There will also be this death.

Soon cool tramontana will stir the leaves,
The shops will re-open at four,
The empty blue bus in the empty pink square
Fill up and depart: we have time
To misrepresent, excuse, deny,
Mythify, use this event
While, under a hotel bed, in prison,
Down wrong turnings, its meaning
Waits for our lives: sooner than we would choose
Bread will melt, water will burn,
And the great quell begin, Abaddon
Set up his triple gallows
At our seven gates, fat Belial make
Our wives waltz naked; meanwhile
It would be best to go home, if we have a home,
In any case good to rest.

That our dreaming wills may seem to escape
This dead calm, wander instead
On knife edges, on black and white squares,
Across moss, baize, velvet, boards,
Over cracks and hillocks, in mazes
Of string and penitent cones,
Down granite ramps and damp passages,
Through gates that will not relatch
And doors marked Private, pursued by Moors
And watched by latent robbers,
To hostile villages at the heads of fjords,
To dark chateaux where wind sobs
In the pine-trees and telephones ring,
Inviting trouble, to a room,
Lit by one weak bulb, where our Double sits
Writing and does not look up.

That, while we are thus away, our own wronged flesh
May work undisturbed, restoring
The order we try to destroy, the rhythm
We spoil out of spite: valves close
And open exactly, glands secrete,
Vessels contract and expand
At the right moment, essential fluids
Flow to renew exhausted cells,
Not knowing quite what has happened, but awed
By death like all the creatures
Now watching this spot, like the hawk looking down
Without blinking, the smug hens
Passing close by in their pecking order,
The bug whose view is balked by grass.
Or the deer who shyly from afar
Peer through chinks in the forest.


If the hill overlooking our city has always been known as Adam's Grave, only at dusk can you see the recumbent giant, his head turned to the west, his right arm resting for ever on Eve's haunch
can you learn, from the way he looks up at the scandalous pair, what a citizen really thinks of his citizenship,
just as now you can hear in a drunkard's caterwaul his rebel sorrows crying for a parental discipline, in lustful eyes perceive a disconsolate soul, scanning with desperation all passing limbs for some vestige of her faceless angel who in that long ago when wishing was a help mounted her once and vanished:
For Sun and Moon supply their conforming masks, but in this hour of civil twilight all must wear their own faces.
And it is now that our two paths cross.
Both simultaneously recognise his Anti-type: that I am an Arcadian, that he is a Utopian.
He notes, with contempt, my Aquarian belly: I note, with alarm, his Scorpion's mouth.
He would like to see me cleaning latrines: I would like to see him removed to some other planet.
Neither speaks. What experience could we possibly share?
Glancing at a lampshade in a store window, I observe it is too hideous for anyone in their senses to buy: He observes it is too expensive for a peasant to buy.
Passing a slum child with rickets, I look the other way: He looks the other way if he passes a chubby one.
I hope our senators will behave like saints, provided they don't reform me: He hopes they will behave like baritone cattivi, and, when lights bum late in the Citadel, I (who have never seen the inside of a police station) am shocked and think: 'Were the city as free as they say, after sundown all her bureaus would be huge black stones':
He (who has been beaten up several times) is not shocked at all but thinks: 'One fine night our boys will be working up there.'
You can see, then, why, between my Eden and his New Jerusalem, no treaty is negotiable.
In my Eden a person who dislikes Bellini has the good manners not to get born: In his New Jerusalem a person who dislikes work will be very sorry he was born.
In my Eden we have a few beam-engines, saddle-tank locomotives, overshot waterwheels and other beautiful pieces of obsolete machinery to play with: In his New Jerusalem even chefs will be cucumber-cool machine minders.
In my Eden our only source of political news is gossip: In his New Jerusalem there will be a special daily in simplified spelling for non-verbal types.
In my Eden each observes his compulsive rituals and superstitious tabus but we have no morals: In his New Jerusalem the temples will be empty but all will practise the rational virtues.
One reason for his contempt is that I have only to close my eyes, cross the iron footbridge to the tow-path, take the barge through the short brick tunnel and there I stand in Eden again, welcomed back by the krumhorns, doppions, sordumes of jolly miners and a bob major from the Cathedral (romanesque) of St Sophie (Die Kalte):
One reason for my alarm is that, when he closes his eyes, he arrives, not in New Jerusalem, but on some august day of outrage when hellikins cavort through ruined drawing-rooms and fish-wives intervene in the Chamber or
some autumn night of deletions and noyades when the unrepentant thieves (including me) are sequestered and those he hates shall hate themselves instead.

So with a passing glance we take the other's posture; already, our steps recede, heading, incorrigible each, towards his kind of meal and evening.
Was it (as it must look to any god of cross-roads) simply a fortuitous intersection of life-paths, loyal to different fibs
or also a rendezvous between accomplices who, in spite of themselves, cannot resist meeting
to remind the other (do both, at bottom, desire truth?) of that half of their secret which he would most like to forget
forcing us both, for a fraction of a second, to remember our victim (but for him I could forget the blood, but for me he could forget the innocence)
on whose immolation (call him Abel, Remus, whom you will, it is one Sin Offering) arcadias, utopias, our dear old bag of a democracy, are alike founded:
For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.


Now, as desire and the things desired
Cease to require attention,
As, seizing its chance, the body escapes,
Section by section, to join
Plants in their chaster peace which is more
To its real taste, now a day is its past,
Its last deed and feeling in, should come
The instant of recollection
When the whole thing makes sense: it comes, but all
I recall are doors banging,
Two housewives scolding, an old man gobbling
A child's wild look of envy,
Actions, words, that could fit any tale,
And I fail to see either plot
Or meaning; I cannot remember
A thing between noon and three.

Nothing is with me now but a sound,
A heart's rhythm, a sense of stars
Leisurely walking around, and both
Talk a language of motion
I can measure but not read: maybe
My heart is confessing her part
In what happened to us from noon till three,
That constellations indeed
Sing of some hilarity beyond
All liking and happening,
But, knowing I neither know what they know
Nor what I ought to know, scorning
All vain fornications of fancy,
Now let me, blessing them both
For the sweetness of their cassations,
Accept our separations.

A stride from now will take me into dream,
Leave me, without a status,
Among its unwashed tribes of wishes
Who have no dances and no jokes
But a magic cult to propitiate
What happens from noon till three,
Odd rites which they hide from me - should I chance,
Say, on youths in an oak-wood
Insulting a white deer, bribes nor threats
Will get them to blab - and then
Past untruth is one step to nothing,
For the end, for me as for cities,
Is total absence: what comes to be
Must go back into non-being
For the sake of the equity, the rhythm
Past measure or comprehending.

Can poets (can men in television)
Be saved? It is not easy
To believe in unknowable justice
Or pray in the name of a love
Whose name one's forgotten: libera
Me, libera C (dear C)
And all poor s-o-b's who never
Do anything properly, spare
Us in the youngest day when all are
Shaken awake, facts are facts,
(And I shall know exactly what happened
Today between noon and three)
That we, too, may come to the picnic
With nothing to hide, join the dance
As it moves in perichoresis,
Turns about the abiding tree.


Among the leaves the small birds sing;
The crow of the cock commands awaking:
In solitude, for company.

Bright shines the sun on creatures mortal;
Men of their neighbours become sensible:
In solitude, for company.

The crow of the cock commands awaking;
Already the mass-bell goes dong-ding:
In solitude, for company.

Men of their neighbours become sensible;
God bless the Realm, God bless the People:
In solitude, for company.

Already the mass-bell goes dong-ding;
The dripping mill-wheel is again turning:
In solitude, for company.

God bless the Realm, God bless the People;
God bless this green world temporal:
In solitude, for company.

The dripping mill-wheel is again turning;
Among the leaves the small birds sing:
In solitude, for company.