2621 Chapters
Medium 9781847771322


Burt, Dan Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


Come: do not touch me: let me alone discover

The holy and funereal ground where I

Must take this fated earth to be my shroud.

Oedipus at Colonus

Grene and Lattimore, ll. 1544–46

Ego teeters on the tip of years

Honks a last horn, taps flippers, rears

To cheers and fish and waddles off,

An old thespian with a cough

Retreating to a circus cage

After a lifetime centre stage

To rot behind steel bars and wait.

Self examines the heap of time,

Hefts what’s left, sifts what’s behind,

Takes toddler tears, abiding pain

From rejection, not risked again,

Compacts the lot to stucco paste,

Concocts history from this waste

And plays Macaulay with your life.

I bursts the bonds of blood and bone

More often now as head grows bare –

Diving at dusk from a Greek cliff,

Heels rising over sea; sheets mussed,

Languorous beside a lover

For the first time; the House hushed

By a violin heralding

Violetta’s death – being blanks,

Ego and self wink out, no sound, no

Clock ticks, no up, down, for a breath

All comes to view, maths’ phantom strings

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Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


For H.

Of human love – you know it all

Although you may have never known

The pleasure reaching to the bone.

You have a call, you have a call.

Transcending and yet feeling still –

This is the hardest thing, I think.

Your days are busy, you can fill

Each minute up and leave no chink.

Love is for me a constant strain

I have the urge to reach, to touch

And feel the ecstasy again

Come riding back, almost too much,

Almost unbearable. But I

Know that my fantasies engage

My thoughts too constantly. I try

To give my heart a pilgrimage,

To walk along distances and find

Rough stone, rich blossom. Cleansing comes

And enters deftly in the mind.

Christ said that there were many rooms

In his great house. And it is true

And each of them is always new.

Analysis of a Situation

There was a point where everything went wrong –

A word, an act, some insufficiency.

And ever since that time the gift of song

Has come with more and more anxiety.

I wish that I could put a finger on

The trouble, but I can’t, some deed has done

lucidities (1970)

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Thomas Aquinas

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Out of the Heights

Out of the preening and impetuous heights

Where we look down and do not fear and risk

The snow escaping, the ice-melting flights,

And where we spin the sun a golden disc

And do not care and watch the clouds attend

The tall sky’s dazzling and arched arabesque,

Out of those places where we think we end

Unhappiness, catch love within a final hand,

God, from such places keep us and defend

The innocence we do not understand,

The darknesses to which we must descend.

The Nature of Prayer a debt to Van Gogh’s Crooked Church

Maybe a mad fit made you set it there

Askew, bent to the wind, the blue-print gone

Awry, or did it? Isn’t every prayer

We say oblique, unsure, seldom a simple one,

Shaken as your stone tightening in the air?

Decorum smiles a little. Columns, domes

Are sights, are aspirations. We can’t dwell

For long among such loftiness. Our homes

Of prayer are shaky and, yes, parts of Hell

Fragment the depths from which the great cry comes.

Thomas Aquinas

Thinking incessantly, making cogitations always but as keenly, freshly as the child

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A Third

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Birds possibly, the ones who loot a nest

Of one more bright than they. I am amazed

When I discern the different ways we live,

Tastes we provide for, that we can have in common

The same five senses and yet still allow,

In these at least, no singularity,

While creature-comforts thrive upon their vagueness.

A Third

It was not that I intercepted

A look of love, as though trapped between two portraits.

I could have shared that, been included

Simply by recognising what I have seen directed

At me, a look so humanly open that a human being

Cannot bear it long and casts down his eyes.

No, this was altogether different, important

Only because it embarrassed, because it showed the

Gulfs and gaps between three people, also the tributaries

Linking them and separating them. What I saw

Was desire, something which cannot be shared,

Which twists you away not in wonder but horror.

Horror because one human being is appearing

Too appropriately like an animal, the other attempting

To change the look with a smile of longing acknowledged

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Fragment for the Dark

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


I am the haunted house whose doors are locked,

I am the echo of a sickening cry,

I am the ghost by which a child was shocked,

I am the way you die.

I am the wound which never ceases bleeding,

I am the sun who blinds you with its eye,

I am the garden no one thought of weeding,

I am the way you die.

Try to escape – I’ll find you anywhere,

Attempt to tame me – do not even try,

Use your breath for a final whispered prayer

For when I come you die.

Fragment for the Dark

Let it not come near me, let it not

Fold round or over me. One weak hand

Clutches a foot of air, asks the brisk buds

To suffer grey winds, spear through

Fog I feel in me. Give me the magic

To see grounded starlings, their polish

As this threat of all-day night. Mind, mind

In me, make thoughts candles to light me

Out of the furthest reach of possible nights.

Lantern me, stars, if I look up through wet hands,

Show assurance in blurred shining. I have

Put every light in the house on.

May their filaments last till true morning.


Charted as dangerous that night is now

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