Lament for Yin Yao

We followed you back for your burial on mount Shinlo
And then through the greens of oaks and pines we rode away home
Your bones are there under the white clouds until the end of time
And there is only the stream that flows down to the world of men.

Wang Wei



You’ve just come from my village
You must have news of my village –
That winter plum outside her curtained window –
Tell me, had it flowered when you left?

Wang Wei

Dream Song 69

Love her he doesn’t but the thought he puts
into that young woman
would launch a national product
complete with TV spots and skywriting
outlets in Bonn and Tokyo
I mean it

Let it be known that nine words have not passed
between herself and Henry;
looks, smiles.
God help Henry, who deserves it all
every last part of that infernal & unconscious
woman, and the pain.

I feel as if, unique, she … Biddable?
Fates, conspire.
– Mr Bones, please.
Vouchsafe me, Sleepless one,
a personal experience of the body of Mrs Boogry
before I pass from lust!


John Berryman

Dream Song 62

That dark brown rabbit, lightness in his ears
& underneath, gladdened our afternoon
munching a crab-‘.
That rabbit was a fraud, like a black bull
prudent I admired in Zaragoza, who
certainly was brave as a demon

but would not charge, being willing not to die.
The rabbit’s case, a little different,
consists in alert
& wily looks down the lawn, where nobody was,
with prickt ears, while rapt but chatting on the porch
we sat in view nearby.

Then went he mildly by, and around behind
my cabin, and when I followed, there he just sat.
Only at last
he turned down around, passing my wife at four feet
and hopped the whole lawn and made thro’ the hedge for the big house.
– Mr Bones, we all brutes & fools.

John Berryman

First Bike

There, at the bottom of the river.
Time slips. The leaves are the leaves
of woods long felled, gold still, like treasure.
The currents turn one wheel as if

you had just laid it down to run
from year to year, from bright to shade,
across the bridge from being young
to here where you stand, unwise and afraid

in grown-up shoes. Your father’s hand
once steadied you. When he let go
you rode, because you didn’t know;

you rode across the yard to find
your balance always was your own.
You rode on after dark alone.

Jacob Polley

Not Ideas about the Thing but the Thing Itself

At the earliest ending of winter,
in March, a scrawny cry from outside
Seemed like a sound in his mind.

He knew that he heard it,
A bird’s cry, at daylight or before,
In the early March wind.

The sun was rising at six,
No longer a battered panache above snow…
It would have been outside.

It was not from the vast ventriloquism
Of sleep’s faded papier-mache…
The sun was coming from outside.

That scrawny cry – it was
A chorister whose c preceded the choir.
It was part of the colossal sun,

Surrounded by its choral rings,
Still far away. It was like
A new knowledge of reality.

Wallace Stevens