The GivenA response to Coleridge’s ‘Work without Hope’
I saw a flower this morning
I thought of picking for you.
But it wouldn’t last long in
water. A forget-me-not
defying the snow, a blue
reminder of what’s to come.
I tease a seed from its cup,
and sow in a sheltered spot
to watch the plant springing up
As soon as frost becomes dew,
a tender earlet breaks through
the earth, and hears itself grow.
The source of the rising sap
isn’t Hope’s ‘Parasite of Woe’,
but the work of what nourishes
busy nature, a nectar flow
sieved by how it is, to tap
the force, so life flourishes.
Hope as Woe’s germ leaves downcast
the man alone with his gift.
He cut flowers for the sick soul.
They wilt like flags at half mast.
Go with the rich stream. The lived
is a given. Be made whole.
Plucking the Bard
gives me his work in progress
‘To look over. I’m not sure…’, I fail,
in my unworldly way, to notice
he is displaying his peacock’s tail.
I treat it as a feather duster,
and comb out the detritus picked up.
I pluck out fluff I think lackluster,
and give the sticky handle a rub.
If not best pleased, he doesn’t show it,
at least to me. I don’t hear a pip.
His secretary tells me the poet
will be getting back to me in a week.
He’s busy with his tropes and scansions.
Or struts his bird in other mansions.
whiteness is scarcely seen like the fleeting
flesh of an apple at the cut of a knife,
a windfall for which beauties are competing,
and the worm wins. The essence of choice is strife.
Those who see her light as the sum of the spectrum
have been blinded by the obvious. Rainbows
are the mote in the eye of a split iris. One-
ness is all for her. The others pose in rows.
The pollution of sunsets occults her white
to darken the day. But she has the last throw
of the dice, and her whiteness contains the night.
The world falls to sleep in her dormant shadow,
and dreams its dreams. It wakes up to a frisson
of snow flakes outside, and white lady within.
My hat is
Made in China.
And there’s a boat in the port
called Marco Polo. I’m a
doubter of those who report
it contains fireworks. I’d go
to check, only my papers
are not in order. I know
it’s nests for I’m with the birds,
having seen the flying pigs,
and eggs laid by a dead duck
called Jeanne. The scare’s a damp squib.
The birds nests leave in a truck
marked ‘nids de poule’. It’s spring.
Bad weather means that France-là
and its birds are importing
them readymade from Peking.
Springtime Lesson for the Little
this year has eight ‘cans’ and one ‘ard’.
And she teaches them how to swim, ribambelle,
bobbing up and down on the lake, the retard
at the rear. The mother has a wavy tail.
Carp leap in the air, mouths open like a whale.
One gulp and that’s it. She makes a full circle.
Round and around they go. All for one. Class
over, back on shore the fluffballs peck seed-grass.
flew out of my hat
while I sauntered along the quay.
By-passers shout, ‘What is that?’
‘Magic’, I say. ‘It’s no mystery.’
I took my bow. It wasn’t a cat.
Nor a sleight of hand from me.
The spectacle was an éclat
in my mind, a flight of fancy.
I wondered how it happens
that a notion becomes a bird,
and takes off with a flap of wings,
Surrealism meeting the Absurd.
I scratched my head and ambled on.
Could be a presage, I surmised
of a Reflective Age: someone
spots an idea, and it’s realised.
So it’s hats in the air for Thought.
Mine lands on my head, like the poem
I’m conjuring up, when I ought
to wait till my pigeon comes home,
and she will have a message from
some Svengali or Roland Barthes.
But the Leap of Faith has done gone
to my head thanks to Kierkegaard.