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Fifty Years On

April 2001, no. 229

Fifty Years On

April 2001, no. 229

Every Intention has something Arbitrary.

Early on, my mind was in reverse.
I read a book the name I thought was From
White Cabin to Log House, and ever after
I knew ambition must go to cancrizans.

To Carthage then I came, but this was London,
Waiting for the train from rain-veiled Tilbury.
Just as I thought, I said, coming on deck
and going below. Hell is a city just

like London, but I knew I had to find
a working hell, I’d lived too long in books.
The thing I didn’t know was that I sought
a London which was in me from the start.

Not fair to this fair city. But if hearts
can bring their darkness with them, then I brought
my dark provincial hours, verandah-lit,
to match the Mayhew shadows of these streets.

I came, I saw, I conjured. I am here.
Of my ignoble comrades, most are dead.
The end is what the end is: open sea,
if mind can cross the sand bar of its fears.

Fifty years ago I’d never have
quoted a word of Goethe’s. I gave up hope
to follow a more formal entropy.
Unchanging stars parade their hemispheres.

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