Now I can see the creeping edge of life
threaten the cliff where my flesh-image waits;
the semaphore of blanched appealing paws,
dead-leaf skeletons in once-read books,
impotently beckons from the beach.
That sad sea-lumber, barnacled delight,
frets but retards not, founders in, the tide
rattlig the relics of our royal state,
lorn Lackland's treasure, drowned Mnemosyne,
mashed in scurf and grit to dumb fish-fodder.
Shall we go down if we can find the steps,
inspect the chaos of dismembered sense,
inqure what beam enticed from native space,
dazzled and dashed against ironic glass,
that wild sea-scourer, the bold gull we knew?
If tears must be associate with despair,
touch follow sight, then both report decay
unless identity can be disproved,
weeping judged wanton, foreign to the loss;
a free creation in a mind at peace.
The crepitation of the restless grains
and the soft integration of fresh worlds
and the vermiculation of the flesh,
is the procession of the pastoral soul;
a piscine epic, mammal tragedy
from Collected Poems (Carcanet 1991), copyright © Edgell Rickword 1991, by permission of Carcanet Press Ltd. Recordings used by permission of the BBC.