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Collected Poems

To Daphnis and Chloe in the Park

To Daphnis and Chloe in the Park

Eluding the metaphysicians
you pursue pleasure among the trees,
you walk in secret pathways and discover
delight in dark places, bruising the grass,
soft animals wrestling in thickets,
and flesh lit with flesh is
more lovely than a poor man's dream
but you're going to get hurt.

page 104

You have desired each other among crowds
lost in a blackened forest of voices
and a glance or a whispered word
has transfigured that desolation.
You have dreamed yourselves alone in the world
coming to each other singing,
under the sun's carnal eye, the great hot flower
burning in the azure negation,
over mountains bright with the blood of spring
and all time and creation
ripening to that moment of delirium
but you're going to get hurt.

For love in the afternoon is a dusty street
in the evening a spoilt child crying behind the door
and love at the midnight is no more.
Warm as your dream is age will be cold
as the automatic pity of priests
or the poetry of Civil Servants.

And apart from the private collapse
there are many hands about you bearing
the shadow of evil on them like a prophecy,
many hands to make light work of your love,
many industrious maggots in the meat of reputation,
speaking of your love as if it were something
that had caught their eye on a scrap of paper in the closet,
awaiting the casual-careful moment
to insert the lethal word, the nail in the skull of the dreamer.
And the vipers wait in your path,
all the vipers of Christendom
singing psalms like the sons of God.
Remember that you are enemy agents in the kingdom of death.
Morality, custom, propriety,
and the furious envy of the frustrated
will be thorns under your feet, poison in your cup.
You will sit by your fire of sticks in the desert night
with savage eyes tirelessly encircling you,
until even the calm stars above you
become the eyes of malignant beasts.

page 105

O lovers, this song I give to you,
the words are old and bitter and true:
east or west, north or south,
trust no ear and trust no mouth
put no trust in earth or sky
stare at the world with a brassy eye
lie dissemble and evade
seek out your reckless glade
O let your lips be warm
flesh sing before the storm
maid and man
take what you can
before the heart grows cold
the mind desperate and the body old.