Task

Task

To study in depth
Paul Eluard’s 1921
collection of poems
The necessities of life
and the consequences
of dreams

Beauty charm
gentleness
and joy
Truth
on a page
Delight in all things
life
Love at the heart

John Lyons


Last weekend I purchased the first volume of Éluard’s Oeuvres complètes (Pléiade edition). I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of his early poetry

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Sweet stay a while

Sweet stay a while

At dawn I rise
           from my bed of flesh
and re-enter the world
           of words

her flesh is warm
           and soft and comforting
but I must disentangle
           from her arms and stand
to address the day
           that waits at my door

in her eyes
           the clouds of sleep
drift still
           beauty is timeless
though it clings
           to memory

the poetry of peace
           and justice melts
into the heart
           of love

John Lyons

At La Closerie des Lilas

closerie

At La Closerie des Lilas

That evening we spent
           with Ulyana and her friend
talking over a bottle of wine
           while the shades of Cézanne
and Oscar Wilde moved
           among the tables

There where the Surrealists
           once came to blows
with their opponents
           you talked of the politics
dividing the Ukrainians
           of Philadelphia
the egos and the rivalries
           the desire to control

there where back in the day
           Picasso and Modigliani
came calmly to chat
           and Joyce and Beckett
and on occasions
           Gertrude Stein

and Hemingway
           of course
in every bar

But I’d gladly return there
           with you if you would too :
would you ?

 

John Lyons

Eternal return

Eternal return

In the still world
           on a blue morning
I think of you
           I think of your name
I say it under my breath
           It brings you back to me
for a moment your presence
           your love
all synonyms for the joy
           you brought me
how much I loved
           to mouth your name

I read the poetry of love
           Paul Éluard out loud
outbursts of love and light
           and the memory of other births
and a future
           covered in kisses
the impossibility of injustice
           when love chooses love
without flinching
           a straight face
along the narrow path
           that draws you back to me

John Lyons

So to the life learnt

canvas
Easter canvas

So to the life learnt

So to the life learnt
           word by word :
who walks beside me in the shadow 
           of Shad Thames ?

the hollow space
           in your image and likeness
the simple mathematics
           as dawn breaks
above my head
           on this Easter Sunday

I have a mind full of you
           and of words
from other scriptures
           and I salute the day with love

The ghosts of Wilfred Owen
           and of Paul Éluard
move through these lines
           one mortally wounded
the other a survivor
           in the Great War

There was a time
           when your almond eyes
drifted into mine
           mine into yours
a time when parting
           on Tooley Street
was such sweet sorrow
           before Hamlet appeared

Now there are red tulips
           and daffodils
with their yellow petals
           spread in honour
of the stars from where
           they come
and there are words
           so many words
that I deploy
           in my struggle against
the ravages of time
           and the loss of love

John Lyons

 

Easter thoughts

Easter thoughts

All pleasures
all pains
of the heart
celebrate
what is

love in its simplicity
the fourth dimension
to being breath

here for so many years
and never to be taken
for granted

given freely
warmly received
there is no pressure
when it is true
it is what is
in life

it does not pass
with the days
the months
the years
or with death

love is the greatest
of all survivors
it holds faith and hope
in patience
keeps them
close to the heart

no metaphor
could ever do it
justice
it just is what it is

a life
built around love
cannot go wrong

John Lyons

Mere being

Mere being

Is it my body
or my mind
or my soul
or my heart
that loves
you

and

is it in time
or space
in the here
and the now
or does it
extend back and forth
into infinity ?

and if so
what is that ?

did I love you
ever since we were
ions longing to bind
with kindred ions
drifting across the ether
in the afterburn
of creation ?

let there be light
means let there be love
means let there be life
because all things mate
all things cohere
and condense
and reproduce

the palm
at the end
of my arm
with which
I caressed you
the woman
I love

John Lyons