24 November 2013

Were the box to be opened

Unknown to her the clothes Mrs. Kennedy wore into the bright midday glare of Dallas lie in an attic not far from 3017 N Street. In Bethesda that night those closest to her had vowed that from the moment she shed them she should never see them again. She hasn't. Yet they are still there, in one of two long brown paper cartons thrust between roof rafters. The first is marked "September 12, 1953," the date of her marriage; it contains her wedding gown. The block-printed label on the other is "Worn by Jackie, November 22, 1963." Inside, neatly arranged, are the pink wool suit, the black shift, the low-heeled shoes and, wrapped in a white towel, the stockings. Were the box to be opened by an intruder from some land so remote that the name, the date and photographs of the ensemble had not been published and republished until they had been graven upon his memory, he might conclude that these were merely stylish garments which had passed out of fashion and which, because they were associated with some pleasant occasion, had not been discarded.
         If the trespasser looked closer, however, he would be momentarily baffled.  The memento of a happy time would be cleaned before storing.  Obviously this costume has not been.  There are ugly splotches along the front and hem of the skirt.  The handbag's leather and the inside of each shoe are caked dark red.  And the stockings are quite odd.  Once the same substance streaked them in mad scribbly patterns, but time and the sheerness of the fabric have altered it. The rusty clots have flaked off; they lie in tiny brittle grains on the nap of the towel. Examining them closely, the intruder would see his error.  This clothing, he would perceive, had not been kept out of sentiment.  He would realize that it had been worn by a slender young woman who had met with some dreadful accident.  He might ponder whether she had survived.  He might even wonder who had been to blame.

William Manchester, Death of a President, 1967.

17 November 2013



Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?
Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?
Give them me.
Give them me. Give them me.
Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man’s fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads, I desire them.
I will howl in a deep lagoon
For your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me. Give them.

'Strange Meetings' Poems by Harold Monro


Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat it.
Time, you thief who loves to get
Sweets into your list, put that in.
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me.
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

                                         by Leigh Hunt.

10 November 2013

Crow's Theology

Crow's Theology
            by Ted Hughes

Crow realized God loved him-
Otherwise, he would have dropped dead.
So that was proved.
Crow reclined, marvelling, on his heart-beat. 

And he realized that God spoke Crow-
Just existing was His revelation. 

But what Loved the stones and spoke stone?
They seemed to exist too.
And what spoke that strange silence
After his clamour of caws faded? 

And what loved the shot-pellets
That dribbled from those strung-up mummifying crows?
What spoke the silence of lead? 

Crow realized there were two Gods-
One of them much bigger than the other
Loving his enemies
And having all the weapons. 


03 November 2013

Bitter Lemons

by Lawrence Durrell


In an island of bitter lemons
Where the moon's cool fevers burn
From the dark globes of the fruit,

And the dry grass underfoot
Tortures memory and revises
Habits half a lifetime dead

Better leave the rest unsaid,
beauty, darkness, vehemence
Let the old sea nurses keep

Their memorials of sleep
And the Greek sea's curly head
Keep its calms like tears unshed

Keep its calms like tears unshed.


Anonymous hand, record one afternoon,
In May, some time before the fig-leaf:
Boats lying idle in the sky, a town
Thrown as on a screen of watered silk,
Lying on its side, reddish and soluble,
A sheet of glass leading down into the sea . . .

Down here an idle boy catches a cicada:
Imprisons it, laughing, in his sister's cloa
In whose warm folds the silly creature sings.

Shape of boats, body of a young girl, cicada,
Conspire and join each other here,
In twelve sad lines against the dark.


These ships, these islands, these simple trees
Are our rewrds in substance, being poor.
This earth a dictionary is
To the root and growth of seeing,
And to the servant heart a door.
Some on the green surface of the land
With all their canvas up in leav and flower,
And some empty of influence
But from the water-winds,
Free as love's green attractions are.

Smoke bitter and blue from farms.
And points of feeble light in houses
Come after them in the scale
Of the material and the beautiful;
Are not less complex but less delicate
And less important than these living
Instruments of space,
Whose quiet communication is
With older trees in ships on the grey waves:
And order and a music
Like a writing on the skies
Too private for the reason or the pen;
Too simple even for the heart's surprise.

From The Poetry of Lawrence Durrell, 1962.