18 August 2013

A coming and going music

                             by Ted Hughes


All night a music
Like a needle sewing body
And soul together, and sewing soul
And sky together and sky and earth
Together and sewing the river to the sea.

In the dark skull of the valley
A lancing, fathoming music
Searching the bones, engraving
On the draughty limits of ghost
In an entanglement of stars.

In the dark belly of the valley
A coming and going music
Cutting the bed-rock deeper

To earth-nerve, a scalpel of music

The valley dark rapt
Hunched over its river, the night attentive
Bowed over its valley, the river

Crying a violin in a grave
All the dead singing in the river

The river throbbing, the river the aorta

And the hills unconscious with listening.


Walks the river at dawn.

The thorn-tree hiding its thorns
With too much and too fleshy perfume.

Thin water. Uneasy ghost.
Whorls clotted with petals.

Trout, like a hidden man's cough,
Slash under dripping roots.

Heron. Clang
Coiling its snake in heavy hurry
Hoists away, yanked away

Ceases to ponder the cuneiform
Under glass

Huge owl-lump of dawn
With wrong fittings, a parasol broken
Tumbles up into strong sky

Banks precariously, risks a look
A writhing unmade bedstead

Sets the blade between its shoulders
and hang-falls
Down a long aim

Dangles its reed

Till it can seen its own pale eyes
Suddenly shakes off cumbersome cloud
To anchor, tall,
An open question.

Now only the river nags to be elsewhere.

from Ted Hughes, River: New Poems, 1983.

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