10. Woodhouse to Taylor
All the joys and all the pangs
to his favourites
– evil to remembrance –
the cold about my heart
of criminals and madmen;
artists all in their strange ways,
refused, rejected tells upon his
words and sudden making.
Publish and be damned!
Not he! Not he!
He always did accept the classical,
yearn for it;
its inspiratum clean,
its beauty true;
English and Greek,
his English Greek.
This one nor that he cannot catch
(his sensual ears nor eyes)
for he is changeable,
living in others whom he tempts to language,
and not in this cameleon unphilosopher.
Not the arterial bright that spits and boils with signs –
the poet’s blood is veinous dark,
flowing back to the heart’s regeneration
lacking, demanding, calling for the true
that the hard centre breathes
through the demanding body of the world.
The plaint is in the music and the rush that the ear pulses
and the word that sings.
The innocent, the lamb, the youngling is first called;
the singer, Orpheus, David, Psalmist, child of truth –
gloria ex celsis to sing the devil’s music to the hosts
that we may overhear
and be among the English poets.
Like his and mine, our master
of the task we read and wonder at.
12. Dr Clark to Leigh Hunt
Back in the huddle of your politics
and the old country, let me tell you,
hard as the slowing marrow of my heart,
that his worldly task is done,
I, like a mute was tasked as busy witness
to the annealing fire of all of him possessed
into the harsh piazza of his hopes
to burn away the ills us doctors could not;
his written body open and his face in clay.
Even the paper daisies
painted overhead curled grey into the air.
The box was nothing special.
Severn’s sad heart refused to place
the Bible turned aside by him,
but letters from his sister
and from Fanny,
his name in brown ink faded,
still unopened, lay near his heart,
his eyelids world-blind
to our punctured prayers,
mumbled into the night and weather
of his gift and love.
We were a meagre few among the goats
and startled rain out of a high sky.
You know I made them place
the daisies back to roof him
as he had asked.
No more the struggles you will not be tamed on
writing a toil that he has failed
as do my practices among the English dying
and all the fragments of continuing days.
Severn tells me he went at night
to the uncatholic graveyard.
There he found a shepherd,
like Endymion, his head asleep the stone
whose broken lyre
sung deathless on the waters.