Go with Isaac Rosenberg

Afternoon moves on

air now so warm

Among the thin green

pipes of the bamboo

those twitters come

from the chick sparrows

It is tentative, a touch

of air all over skin

Bless, the word for it

becomes the thing

Go with Isaac Rosenberg

scavenging on the Somme

'Sometimes I find a bible

in a dead man's clothes

'I tear out pages that I want,

and carry them around with me.'


They squeezed me into a tube

with a hole at either end.

A lintel was underneath me,

then they hammered me in,

not cruelly, no, breezily.

I blessed the house, I alone

knew what I said;

slide me from the tube,

unfold the roll of me,

my letters spell no noise.

As they will always do,

they cut my throat;

if I could only bleat;

now mute, I accuse

and magnify the Lord.

My first name I forgot;

dust from a parched ravine,

I am spun, I adhere

to the pad of a rabbit's paw,

to a terebinth leaf.

The same dust purples dawn,

then a sundown of cherry

and primrose deepens the murmur

of women filling the streets:

my silence lost, I again begin.

Malatesta's Phantom

I don't want to feel

as old men tend to do

the pang

not to have known

in good times

happiness at the good.

Knowledge of the good

was attributed

to the old people,

now they cannot forget

poisons that infest,

even pervert,

the goods of civilisation;

and this pang

is for what we have not done,

instants of experience

not appreciated to the full;

several enrichments

of sexual union,

the taste of bread

baked at home.

So be it. Even then,

losing paradise nags you,

ages you somewhat, just like

any other necessity; hope

of its again occurring

as one's own small creation

will have diminished itself;

avarice, brutality,

and sufferings loom

blotting out beliefs,

giving heart trouble,

atavisms, aggressions

(for animals unthinkable)

play havoc with

trust that you existed

honourably, there and then.

Should old people

go on about it? Who

ever heeded old warnings?

Who reads sympathetically

the signs? Did I, Malatesta,

take it to heart

that marble was slow,

exceedingly slow, to be

created by its ocean

depths, that its atoms


from the back of beyond

to be so exquisitely

modelled by the hand

cutting with chisel,

polishing to completion

figures in their low relief?

And did I recognize

others who toiled at a thing

I could not do? Death

came to complete then

the suspense.

To resist is the choice;

and what he did know

Malatesta chose.

Let the chisel not falter.

Let the marble resist.