97. Towards a Common Place, at Last?

too much said
emptily voiced rhetoric
but still
just to live freely
common place together
 

oh those old gods again
don’t we always dream of them?
our circumstances
                  caught this?
 

let’s start again
The People’s Republic of Albion
                                 – truly meant
                                 – who wouldn’t desire this?
dignified women & men relishing their lives
who can accept anything for us that’s less?
 

old stars –
what shattered fragments watch us
we are children
our knowledge of this world
too brief
 

do you remember landscapes
or people?
maybe failure here1
 

Alle die Schlafgestalten, kristallin
die du annahmst
im Sprachschatten,

ihnen
führ ich mein Blut zu

Paul Celan, “Alle die Schlafgestalten”, in edited & translated by Michael Hamburger, Paul Celan: Poems (Carcanet New Press, 1980), p 296

 

The crowd howls like a woman in labour. The crowd writhes in giving birth to its own destiny … Everything is ardour and clamour, creation and intoxication, peril and victory, beneath the murky sky of battle where swallows flash and cry.

Gabriele D’Annunzio, speech May 1915, quoted in Lucy Hughes-Hackett, The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio poet seducer & preacher of war (Fourth Estate, 2013), p 2962

complex surfaces
– yes that’s a good slogan
what we must aim for
pullulating & fractal
this whole thin membrane
so fragile
           mustn’t let it break
 

regret the morning in a coffee shop
trying to write poetry
                       about the sunlight in the street
                       & the people
                                    passing in & out
                                    not the top of craft
                                    its lowliness to love
 

only us at last
ran to the ship and thanked
if we’re not dead
we’d better try living
this time round at last3

 

 

1 “Oh jesus! Too true. Time to bring on the quotations now & see if they’ll help us get going again.”

 

 

2 “Ahh, listen you can actually hear the twin glittering swollen bollox of the political poet chiming here.”

 

 

3 “Oh dear fuck – this poetry is depressingly hopeful as it ends. Easy to maintain that negative critical stance when you’re a university lecturer – the rest of us poor mortal wretches need something better this time round, I can tell you.”

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