The poetics of dream

The poetics of dream

Never has space
           flight of birds
flight of angels
           aerial distance
the poet’s mind
           eyed from a castle
or from a tower
           in Sligo

the act ever
           incomplete
the arrow speeding
           through the air
how thoughts soar
           carried on the wind
a child’s kite
           with unending string

never has space
           and within it love
the heartfelt impulse
           flight of fancy
eclipsing all fear
           never has space
known such a time
           inwardly
outwardly
           as now and then

John Lyons


Die Poetik des Traums

Hat nie Platz
           Flug der Vögel
Flug der Engel
           Luftentfernung
der Geist des Dichters
           von einer Burg aus gesehen
oder von einem Turm
           in Sligo

die Tat immer
           unvollständig
Der Pfeil beschleunigt
           durch die Luft
wie Gedanken steigen
           im Wind getragen
Drachen eines Kindes
           mit endloser Schnur

hat nie Platz
           und Liebe darin
der warme Impuls
           Flug der Fantasie
alle Angst in den Schatten stellen
           hat nie Platz
eine solche Zeit bekannt
           innerlich
außenlich
           wie jetzt und dann

 

Yeats in decline

Yeats in decline

The beauty of things
           necessary as the rose
or the eyes of a child
           sufficient in their being
in need of no explanation
           Every thought every thing
fit for use in the poem
           that endows every aspect
with the intensity of life
           What is seen and felt
and is expressed
           in transcendent
confidential language
           Inspiration is breath
that animates
           that brings to life
An old man with a stick
           beats at the door
and we recognise his face
           and value his gesture

John Lyons

Location

Location

Poetry as an act of location
           an act of placement
the bleak port of Santos
           built on coffee and corruption
or the harbour in Salou
           a catch of sardines
shed unceremoniously
           onto the jetty
leaping metallic muscle
           gleaming in the sunlight

Call it emotional
           cartography
operating within
           the physical register
How delicate a table laid
           for a supper shared
How delicate a thought
           a kiss
a dream come true :
           her beauty baited
with a string of words
           no pain or panic
in our pleasure
           defeated
the tired leopards of the moon
           here was my soil seeded :
here did her petals flourish
           opening out to imbibe
the sweet night-thickened dew
           her courage swollen
to the purpose
           of love’s common limb

Old men now clamber across
           the worn marble steps
ache of ages
           ache of years
a flicker in the failing light
           and then gone
deaf to the soft birdsong
           on the summer air
their swooping swagger caught
           in a swirl of mutinous dust

John Lyons

The Tower

yeats
W B Yeats (1865-1939)

The Tower

The clouds of the sky
           torn to shreds
by the bitter wind
           grey clouds blowing in
from the East
           on this the shortest day
the longest night to come
            How well Yeats understood
the wreck of the body
           the slow decay of the blood
and for so many years
           knew only love unrequited
haughty disdainful love
           that near broke his heart
until he found satisfaction
           with one who cared
peace of body and mind
           at last and an harmonious life

Faith and pride
           he bequeaths to the young
and memories of love
           the poet’s sweet imaginings
he puts to one side :
           time indeed to make a living will
a testament to his humanity
           the lock stock and barrel
of his life and the learnings
           of his unbroken soul

John Lyons

Rare flower

Rare flower

Rare flower soaked
           in the summer rain
the wind will outlive you
           your petals will wither
and fall and your dust
           will be a distant memory

though you hale
           from a proud corridor
of stars your beauty
           will not survive the season
of salmon rising

dragonflies will buzz
           above your head
indifferent to your charms
           and through the black night
you will feel abashed
           in the shadow of the rose

there is no wisdom in old age
           merely senescence
a paltry figure in a tattered coat
           as the poet would have it
bones that fail and eyes
           out of focus
a limp from day to day

of her he recalls
           how he penetrated the light
how she listened enrapt
           to his song of innocence
and how their hearts were lost
           in a tangle of limbs

rare flower in spring
           do not raise false hopes
do not long for love everlasting
           delight in the bed in which you lie
and know that time will take its revenge
           come what may

John Lyons

What is Popular Poetry, by W B Yeats

From What is Popular Poetry, by W B Yeats

There is only one kind of good poetry, for the poetry of the coteries, which presupposes the written tradition, does not differ in kind from the true poetry of the people, which presupposes the unwritten tradition. Both are alike strange and obscure, and unreal to all who have not understanding, and both, instead of that manifest logic, that clear rhetoric of the ‘popular poetry,’ glimmer with thoughts and images whose ‘ancestors were stout and wise,’ ‘anigh to Paradise’ ‘ere yet men knew the gift of corn.’ It may be that we know as little of their descent as men knew of ‘the man born to be a king’ when they found him in that cradle marked with the red lion crest, and yet we know somewhere in the heart that they have been sung in temples, in ladies’ chambers, and our nerves quiver with a recognition they were shaped to by a thousand emotions. If men did not remember or half remember impossible things, and, it may be, if the worship of sun and moon had not left a faint reverence behind it, what Aran fisher-girl would sing :

 

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you; the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh. It is you are the lonely bird throughout the woods; and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me and you said a lie to me, that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked. I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you; and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you, a ship of gold under a silver mast; twelve towns and a market in all of them, and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible; that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish; that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird, and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you, to-day or to-morrow or on Sunday. It was a bad time she took for telling me that, it was shutting the door after the house was robbed….

You have taken the east from me, you have taken the west from me, you have taken what is before me and what is behind me; you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me, and my fear is great you have taken God from me.

Rag-and-bone

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.
                                W B Yeats

Rag-and-bone

Here where the robin
      the blackbird
and the sparrow once sang
      dappled seaborne clouds
hasten across the sky
      bringing rain and redemption

In these same life-worn streets
      the cry of rag-and-bone
has long ago faded :
      and yet you ask
                  where is beauty
                  where is youth
                  where is Alice
with her long blond hair ?

He who said
      she shall have roses
ribbons and rings
      where is he ?

When was it
      that crabbed age crept in
to take the upper-hand ?
      When was it
that he first cursed confusion
       and his faltering limbs ?

Enough of your sad metaphysics
      my dust has yet to settle
and I will do battle until
      my day is done
There is no repose
      that I would welcome
nor will I accept
      a cooler shade of love :
the true constellations
      are here below
in her entreating eyes
      in her redemptive smile
in the warmth of her embrace
      and I will not be denied

John Lyons