Through throats where many rivers meet, the curlews cry, Under the conceiving moon, on the high chalk hill, And there this night I walk in the white giant’s thigh Where barren as boulders women lie longing still
To labour and love though they lay down long ago.
Through throats where many many rivers meet, the women pray, Pleading in the waded bay for the seed to flow Though the names on their weed grown stones are rained away,
And alone in the night’s eternal, curving act They yearn with tongues of curlews for the unconceived And immemorial sons of the cudgelling, hacked
Hill. Who once in gooseskin winter loved all ice leaved In the courters’ lanes, or twined in the ox roasting sun In the wains tonned so high that the wisps of the hay Clung to the pitching clouds, or gay with any one Young as they in the after milking moonlight lay
Under the lighted shapes of faith and their moonshade Petticoats galed high, or shy with the rough riding boys, Now clasp me to their grains in the gigantic glade,
Who once, green countries since, were a hedgerow of joys.
Time by, their dust was flesh the swineherd rooted sly, Flared in the reek of the wiving sty with the rush Light of his thighs, spreadeagle to the dunghill sky, Or with their orchard man in the core of the sun’s bush Rough as cows’ tongues and thrashed with brambles their buttermilk Manes, under the quenchless summer barbed gold to the bone,
Or rippling soft in the spinney moon as the silk And ducked and draked white lake that harps to a hail stone.
Who once were a bloom of wayside brides in the hawed house And heard the lewd, wooed field flow to the coming frost, The scurrying, furred small friars squeal, in the dowse Of day, in the thistle aisles, till the white owl crossed
Their breast, the vaulting does roister, the horned bucks climb Quick in the wood at love, where a torch of foxes foams, All birds and beasts of the linked night uproar and chime
And the mole snout blunt under his pilgrimage of domes, Or, butter fat goosegirls, bounced in a gambo bed, Their breasts full of honey, under their gander king Trounced by his wings in the hissing shippen, long dead And gone that barley dark where their clogs danced in the spring, And their firefly hairpins flew, and the ricks ran round—
(But nothing bore, no mouthing babe to the veined hives Hugged, and barren and bare on Mother Goose’s ground They with the simple Jacks were a boulder of wives)—
Now curlew cry me down to kiss the mouths of their dust.
The dust of their kettles and clocks swings to and fro Where the hay rides now or the bracken kitchens rust As the arc of the billhooks that flashed the hedges low And cut the birds’ boughs that the minstrel sap ran red. They from houses where the harvest kneels, hold me hard, Who heard the tall bell sail down the Sundays of the dead And the rain wring out its tongues on the faded yard, Teach me the love that is evergreen after the fall leaved Grave, after Belovéd on the grass gulfed cross is scrubbed Off by the sun and Daughters no longer grieved Save by their long desires in the fox cubbed Streets or hungering in the crumbled wood: to these Hale dead and deathless do the women of the hill Love for ever meridian through the courters’ trees
And the daughters of darkness flame like Fawkes fires still.
All all and all the dry worlds lever, Stage of the ice, the solid ocean, All from the oil, the pound of lava. City of spring, the governed flower, Turns in the earth that turns the ashen Towns around on a wheel of fire.
How now my flesh, my naked fellow, Dug of the sea, the glanded morrow, Worm in the scalp, the staked and fallow. All all and all, the corpse's lover, Skinny as sin, the foaming marrow, All of the flesh, the dry worlds lever.
Fear not the waking world, my mortal, Fear not the flat, synthetic blood, Nor the heart in the ribbing metal. Fear not the tread, the seeded milling, The trigger and scythe, the bridal blade, Nor the flint in the lover's mauling.
Man of my flesh, the jawbone riven, Know now the flesh's lock and vice, And the cage for the scythe-eyed raver. Know, O my bone, the jointed lever, Fear not the screws that turn the voice, And the face to the driven lover.
All all and all the dry worlds couple, Ghost with her ghost, contagious man With the womb of his shapeless people. All that shapes from the caul and suckle, Stroke of mechanical flesh on mine, Square in these worlds the mortal circle.
Flower, flower the people's fusion, O light in zenith, the coupled bud, And the flame in the flesh's vision. Out of the sea, the drive of oil, Socket and grave, the brassy blood, Flower, flower, all all and all.
I have longed to move away From the hissing of the spent lie And the old terrors' continual cry Growing more terrible as the day Goes over the hill into the deep sea; I have longed to move away From the repetition of salutes, For there are ghosts in the air And ghostly echoes on paper, And the thunder of calls and notes.
I have longed to move away but am afraid; Some life, yet unspent, might explode Out of the old lie burning on the ground, And, crackling into the air, leave me half-blind. Neither by night's ancient fear, The parting of hat from hair, Pursed lips at the receiver, Shall I fall to death's feather. By these I would not care to die, Half convention and half lie.
I see the boys of summer in their ruin Lay the gold tithings barren, Setting no store by harvest, freeze the soils; There in their heat the winter floods Of frozen loves they fetch their girls, And drown the cargoed apples in their tides.
These boys of light are curdlers in their folly, Sour the boiling honey; The jacks of frost they finger in the hives; There in the sun the frigid threads Of doubt and dark they feed their nerves; The signal moon is zero in their voids.
I see the summer children in their mothers Split up the brawned womb’s weathers, Divide the night and day with fairy thumbs; There in the deep with quartered shades Of sun and moon they paint their dams As sunlight paints the shelling of their heads.
I see that from these boys shall men of nothing Stature by seedy shifting, Or lame the air with leaping from its heats; There from their hearts the dogdayed pulse Of love and light bursts in their throats. O see the pulse of summer in the ice.
But seasons must be challenged or they totter Into a chiming quarter Where, punctual as death, we ring the stars; There, in his night, the black-tongued bells The sleepy man of winter pulls, Nor blows back moon-and-midnight as she blows.
We are the dark derniers let us summon Death from a summer woman, A muscling life from lovers in their cramp From the fair dead who flush the sea The bright-eyed worm on Davy’s lamp And from the planted womb the man of straw.
We summer boys in this four-winded spinning, Green of the seaweeds’ iron, Hold up the noisy sea and drop her birds, Pick the world’s ball of wave and froth To choke the deserts with her tides, And comb the county gardens for a wreath.
In spring we cross our foreheads with the holly, Heigh ho the blood and berry, And nail the merry squires to the trees; Here love’s damp muscle dries and dies Here break a kiss in no love’s quarry, O see the poles of promise in the boys.
I see you boys of summer in your ruin. Man in his maggot’s barren. And boys are full and foreign to the pouch. I am the man your father was. We are the sons of flint and pitch. O see the poles are kissing as they cross.
In my craft or sullen art Exercised in the still night When only the moon rages And the lovers lie abed With all their griefs in their arms, I labor by singing light Not for ambition or bread Or the strut and trade of charms On the ivory stages But for the common wages Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart From the raging moon I write On these spindrift pages Nor for the towering dead With their nightingales and psalms But for the lovers, their arms Round the griefs of the ages, Who pay no praise or wages Nor heed my craft or art.
I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on in the world between the covers of books, such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,,, such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, such and so many blinding bright lights, splashing all over the pages in a million bits and pieces all of which were words, words, words, and each of which were alive forever in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.