Douglas Eaglesham Dunn
Bio and Bibliography
Comments on poems
from Terry Street
On roofs of Terry Street
A removal from Terry Street
Men of Terry Street
The new girls
The year's afternoon
A European Dream
The night rattles with nightmares.
Children cry in the close-packed houses,
A man rots in his snoring.
On quiet feet, policemen test doors.
Footsteps become people under streetlamps.
Drunks return from parties,
Sounding of empty bottles and old songs.
The young women come home,
The pleasure in them deafens me.
They trot like small horses
And disappear into white beds
At the edge of the night.
All windows open, this hot night,
And the sleepless, smoking in the dark,
Making small red light at their mouths,
Count the years of their marriages.
À JANELA DA NOITE
A noite chocalha de pesadelos.
Crianças choram nas casas amontoadas,
Um homem apodrece a ressonar.
De pés silenciosos, guardas experimentam portas.
Passadas tornam-se pessoas à luz de candeeiros.
Bêbados regressam de paródias,
Soando a garrafas vazias e velhas cantiga.
As raparigas voltam para casa,
O prazer nelas ensurdece-me.
Trotam como póneis
E desaparecem por entre camas brancas
À beira da noite.
Todas as janelas se abrem na noite escaldante,
E os que não têm sono, fumando no escuro,
Fazendo pequenas luzes rubras junto à boca,
Contam os anos dos casamentos.
ON ROOFS OF TERRY STREET
Television aerials, Chinese characters
In the lower sky, wave gently in the smoke.
Nest-building sparrows peck at moss,
Urban flora and fauna, soft, unscrupulous.
Rain drying on the slates shines sometimes.
A builder is repairing someone’s leaking roof,
He kneels upright to rest his back.
His trowel catches the light and becomes precious'.
NOS TELHADOS DE TERRY STREET
Antenas de televisão, caracteres chineses
Contra o céu, abanam ao fumo suavemente.
Pardais fazendo ninho bicam musgo,
Flora e fauna urbanas, macias e sem escrúpulos.
A chuva a secar nas telhas de lousa brilha às vezes.
Um pedreiro repara um telhado que tem fendas;
Ajoelha-se, aprumado, para repousar as costas,
A luz que a trolha colhe torna-a preciosa.
A REMOVAL FROM TERRY STREET
On a squeaking cart, they push the usual stuff,
A mattress, bed ends, cups, carpets, chairs,
Four paperback westerns. Two whistling youths
In surplus U S Army battle-jackets
Remove their sister’s goods. Her husband
Follows, carrying on his shoulders the son
Whose mischief we are glad to see removed,
And pushing, of all things, a lawnmower.
There is no grass in Terry Street. The worms
Come up cracks in concrete yards in moonlight.
That man, I wish him well. I wish him grass.
A comment, here
MUDANÇA DE TERRY STREET
Numa carroça a ranger, eles empurravam o costume:
Um colchão, cabeceiras de cama, chávenas, tapetes, cadeiras,
Quatro livros de cow-boys. Dois rapazes a assobiar,
Em gibões de excedentes do exército americano,
Retiram os haveres da irmã. O marido
Vem atrás, trazendo às cavalitas o filho,
Cujas travessuras vão, para nossa alegria, na mudança.
E empurrando, quem diria, um corta-relva.
Não há relvados em Terry Street. Os vermes
Surgem de fendas nos pátios de cimento, ao luar.
A esse homem desejo boa sorte. Desejo-lhe relva.
Traduções de João Ferreira Duarte, em "LEITURAS, poemas do inglês", Relógio de Água, 1993. ISBN 972-708-204-1
MEN OF TERRY STREET
in at night, leave in the early morning.
masculine invisibility makes gods of them,
to look long at comfortably.
I live in you, you live in me;
drinking go on into the night
always the girls there no one’s seen before,
rooms nearby in the same district, or just like it.
reach the door, and turn the key, and know
It is summer, and we are in a house
A room, unutterably feminine,
We stood here in the coupledom of us.
We heard the night-boys in the fir trees shout.
With all the feelings of a widower
Dusk is a listening, a whispered grace
She waits at the door of the hemisphere
What rustles in the leaves, if it is not
Monogamous swans on the darkened mirrors
Night is its Dog Star, its eyelet of grief
A comment, here
To climb these stairs again, bearing a tray,
A comment, here
Day by nomadic day
A comment, here
Where can a man's imagination go
Without insulting where a boy's once went
Forty-approaching-fifty years ago?
Not love. Not sex. Been there and got the grief.
There's nothing left in that line to invent,
Or improvise. The map on the flyleaf
Of a book about Morocco drew me in
To mounted gownie-men, hard-riding Rif
Fighting the footsore French Foreign Legion
In sketched mountains, with drawn passes, peaks,
Oases, date palms, a walled and towered town.
Perusing a map was one of my techniques
For getting the hell out of the parish
Of Inchinnan and its reductive keeks
Into a larger world. I made a wish.
I dropped my penny in the well of dreams,
Into a deep, dark, distant, delayed splash.
The world was everything that thinks and seems
When I was twelve years old and dogging off
Into a free mind, writing reams and reams--
Invisible paper, invisible ink--my huff
A truancy from self as much as school.
"Why do you think so much of poetry, Prof?"--
I don't. It's the obsession of a Fool
For circumstance, an accidental cry
Before the stocks and mocks of ridicule
Without an answer to the question "Why?"
Off, then, to Agadir, Fez, Marrakesh,
To white-walled forts beneath Saharan sky,
Tall, sizzling tagines, and heaped bowls of fresh
Dates, oranges, the Kasbahs of Rabat,
Tangier, and Casablanca, ancient Meknes,
Volubilis, Sale, and Ourzazat.
`As Time Goes By' ... No re-make's probable!
Ah, Casablanca, there's no copycat
Director could re-do how Bogie's skill
Turned cynicism upside-down, said `love'
Without the saying of it but the thrill-"Here's
looking at you, kid,"--as if to prove
Devotion, loyalty, above intrigue,
And virtue something that--well, just rubs off
From cut-price black-and-white cafe fatigue,
Booze, smokes, tuxedos. By the final scene
They'd overshot the budget. Some bigwig
Demanded savings. On the silver screen
It's all illusion anyway. They faked
A one-dimensional getaway plane
Built out of struts and canvas, a half-baked
Stunt of cheap joinery, using midgets
In long-shot--lyrical heartbreak
Forged by dwarfs and skinflint deficits.
I go by stamps, by the Sherifian post.
I go by Gandon's designs, and make my visits
To remote oases, to the farthermost
Ramparted cities, gardens, empty coast,
Sifted Sahara measuring the minutes,
And fountained courtyards where I meet a ghost
Under a palm. She says, "Let's call it quits."
Saturday January 18, 2003
As the moment of leisure grows deeper
From New Selected Poems 1964-2000 by Douglas Dunn, published by Faber and Faber.
Review of "ELEGIES", by Douglas Dunn
Ira Sadoff (Colby College)
In his 1985 book Elegies (Faber and Faber: London, 1985), Douglas Dunn utilizes image, metaphor, diction and fixed meter to craft a collection of poems with considerable emotive power. At his strongest, Dunn’s poems create moments of spiritual desolation and despondency in which reader and speaker inhabit the image and metaphor to intensify the dramatic experiences in the poem. Dunn uses image throughout to create scenes of domestic decay and isolation reflective of the emotional and literal experience of the poem. In “Home Again” (51) for example, Dunn employs images of decomposing fruit left by the speaker. He writes “Autumnal aromatics, forgotten fruits... Cadaver orchard, an orphanage of pips,/ Four apples sink into a pulpy rust,”(1, 6-7). These images do more than create the aura of decay and sterility, they also work to reinforce the sentiment of abandonment, a feeling prevalent throughout the poem but never articulated through rhetoric. Dunn’s ability to make the images communicate the emotional status of the speaker and the situation instead of a reliance on stale abstractions demonstrate his ability to express meaning through image. In places of abstract or metaphysical diction, the imagery supports the diction, as in “Dining”(27). The literal narrative involves the speaker’s attempt to cook his own meals from his dead wife’s recipe, and the images of “...each kitchen-spotted page,/Each stain, each note in her neat hand a sight to spin me/ Into this grief, this kitchen pilgrimage.”(23-5). The images mix the invasion of dirt and mess with the order of his wife, a combination that functions to spark the memory of those literal moments when his the nastiness and disorder of life invaded his wife to kill her. The power of the imagery rests in its multifaceted ability to portray a real and inhabitable domestic scene while concurrently invoking the metaphysical experience of memory. In his stronger poems, all the images work on emotional/evocative and physical levels that give the poems a strong literal anchor that grounds the equally compelling metaphysical or abstract emotional experiences.
In a similar fashion, Dunn uses metaphor to create seamless transitions within the poems. When the metaphors are strong, they produce intense and coherent shifts that maintain and usually contribute to the emotional charge of the moment. Dunn avoids wasting lines on empty rhetoric or abstractions, allowing the poems greater continuity and maintaining the importance of each line. In “Re-reading Katherine Mansfield’s Bliss and Other Stories” (9), Dunn uses the metaphor of a fly crushed between the pages of the story Bliss to create a sense of a real story marred by death. The extended metaphor works not only to advance the narrative, but also allows for the transition into the resolution: “...preparing this/ Good life; and this, this fly, verbosely buried/ in “Bliss”, one dry tear punctuating “Bliss”(14-16). The resolution fully realizes the metaphor in its transformation from the fly splotch to the tear, and this concretizes the experience hinted at throughout the poem. By balancing the narrative progression with the metaphoric development, Dunn easily flows into the conclusion, bringing the metaphor to a fruition foreshadowed but not overemphasized throughout the poem. In “The Kaleidoscope” (20) the metaphor functions to shift from the literal to the metaphysical without diminishing the rhythm, flow, or intensity of the poem. He writes:
I climb these stairs a dozen times a day
And, by that open door, wait, looking in
At where you died. My hands become a tray
Offering me, my flesh, my soul, my skin.
As in so many other places, here the metaphor and the diction choices contribute to the sense of sacrifice and annihilation, and of a religious need for absolution realized later in the poem. Metaphor, both extended and particular gives Dunn the flexibility to shift and surprise in his poems, going in and out of the real while never exiting the poems’s spiritual intensity.
The choices in diction relate intimately with the choices in meter, so I will talk about the two together. Perhaps what makes this book so remarkable is Dunn’s ability to utilize fixed meter to reinforce or limit the experiences of the poems. In “France” (19) diction choices immediately imbue the work with emotional implications, a masterful way to work the mood of the poem without a great deal of empty or top-heavy description. Words like “scuttled,” “frost,” “ghost,” and “ill” contrast “play,” “nightgown’s bow,” “jouissance,” and “flowers” to create an opposition between the dreams of the speaker and his wife with the physical realities of the poem. This use of diction demonstrates how much one well- chosen word can communicate in terms of emotional resonance and literal conflict. The form of the poem, a sonnet with a traditional Elizabethan octet and a surprising Petrarchan sextet (efggef) reinforces the surprise of the poem, and especially affects the resolution of the poem, in which the problem posed does not receive a proper solution. The inversion of the sonnet’s typically harmonizing or resolving conclusion makes the surprise of the ending more vivid, a technique used in a number of poems.
Another place where the form directly impacts the overall experience is the first part of “Anniversaries” (59). Here the meter reinforces the mechanical feeling of days passing without lonely similarity, giving a feeling of repetitive wandering and external aimlessness while the speaker’s days focus on an internal subject of loss: “Day by nomadic day/ Our anniversaries go by,/ Dates anchored in an inner sky” (1-3). Again the diction works in relation to the meter, where the speaker expresses his emotional state through very charged diction choices such as “nomadic,” “dusty,” “powdered,” and “wife to the weather” while using meter to convey a rhythmic and unbreakable pattern. In “Reincarnations” (44) the extended and shifting metaphors converge with the meter to create a measured sentiment of loss that stays within its metric boundaries and thus fails to run out of control and overwhelm the poem. Dunn’s variations on the length of the metrical feet and the rhyme scheme help contribute to the surprise and the shifting metaphors of the poem. Dunn does an excellent job playing with meter to keep his lines interesting and purposeful while still limited, helping to avoid the danger of letting the poem run away from him.
The only striking weaknesses in the work occurs when the rhetorical diction feels unjustified by the imagery or breaks too sharply with the tone of the poem. At these moments the poems become overly philosophical and fail to let the imagery, metaphor, and meter do the expressive work. At other times abstractions function as rather abrupt transitions in poems where the dramatic tension lessens under the emotionally empty metaphysical shifts (as in “The Clear Day” (40-1)). Still, these moments are rare in the book. Overall, Dunn’s mastery of meter and language allow him to inflect an expressive moment with every carefully chosen word, while the meter helps keep the density of the poems from overwhelming the narrative and the multifaceted but clear emotional pictures he draws. I feel as though I have learned a good deal in term’s of meter’s measuring and limiting function, as well as its ability to add to the dramatic tension or surprise of the poem. Dunn has demonstrated he can employ conventional metrics while still playing with the rhyme and diction sufficiently to avoid a diminishment of the experience through predictability and falsified diction. The meter works to force precise diction in the effort to conform with the metric rules while simultaneously advancing the emotionally charged narrative. This is a powerful book and I feel that I have learned a lot in terms of metric and metaphoric craft with special emphasis on emotionally charged diction/images and smooth transition.
Dead wives' society
Which poet grieved most selflessly for the death of his wife? John Milton, Thomas Hardy, Douglas Dunn or Ted Hughes?
I remember at a
party playing a maudlin game: make up your own epitaph. It wasn't as funny as
intended, although it was revealing (one man wanted his to read: "He did better
than his father"). Fortunately, we are not in charge of composing our epitaphs.
But memorialising others is a responsible affair-especially in poetry. I was
looking at Faber's enticing new editions of modern poetry that include Douglas
Dunn's Elegies and Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters, when the dead wives first came
to mind. I started to think of Lesley Balfour Dunn (d.1981), Sylvia Plath
(d.1963) and Emma Hardy (d.1912 )-each woman with an afterlife in poetry written
by her husband. The more I thought about it, the more ambiguous this dead wives'
Milton could have set them all an example. He opted for unambiguous canonisation. "On His Deceased Wife" begins: "Methought I saw my late espoused saint" and he continues: "Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight/Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined/So clear, as in no face with more delight./But oh! As to embrace me she inclined,/I waked, she fled, and day bought back my night." Bereft poets often renew their marriage vows in death and Mrs Milton, looking down from heaven has nothing to complain of-the lament is perfect: beautiful, exaggerated, blissfully unrevealing.
Thomas Hardy's poems written after the death of Emma are trickier. They are not about saintliness but failure. In the poems-among his best -he berates himself for not loving his wife better in their last years together. Her presence did not move him then as much as her absence does now. His reaction to Emma's death was as if to one of "life's little ironies": a love that comes too late. His emotion may not have been insincere, but he recognised its irony and dramatic force.
I don't think that, were Emma able to read his poems, she would be unreservedly gratified. She might have felt indignant at the poetic mileage her husband derived from her death, all those journeys they never took together-and now this grand literary journey in her name. And she might feel a little hurt, too, by the superior value he places on their youthful times together.
Hardy is mourning twice over, for the end of youthful romance as well as for extinction in old age. Death permits the young Emma to step forward once more in her air-blue gown. And yet, one can detect in his grief, an old habit of marital dissatisfaction, close to nagging. In several poems, he complains that her death lacked occasion; he reproaches her for her indifference, her failure to say goodbye. "The Going" begins: "Why did you give no hint that night/That quickly after the morrow's dawn,/And calmly, as if indifferent quite,/You would close your term here, up and be gone/Where I could not follow/With wing of swallow/To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!" Painful feelings-and yet the rhythm of "The Going" is the opposite of grieving paralysis, it is a vigorous excursion. The poem is enjoying itself-Hardy makes an occasion of her death where she failed to do so. And it is only now that she is gone that it is possible to bring into focus the magnificent figure who takes on a heroic, undomestic aspect: "You were she who abode/By those red-veined rocks far West,/you were the swan-necked one who rode/Along the beetling Beeny Crest."
"The look of a room on returning thence" is key to Douglas Dunn's Elegies, dedicated to his wife who died, at 37, of cancer. In "The Kaleidoscope," he writes: "I climb these stairs a dozen times a day/And, by that open door, wait, looking in/At where you died. My hands become a tray/Offering me, my flesh, my soul, my skin./Grief wrongs us so. I stand, and wait, and cry/For the absurd forgiveness, not knowing why." The domesticity of Dunn's poems is a force in itself: the reader discovers that grief is a house of rooms, some of which are imaginary. The poems are furnished with souvenirs-bronze frogs, wooden mobiles, much-used recipe books. He responds keenly both to the solace and minor outrage of objects that outlive his wife.
If Dunn's poetry were less good, one would say it was merely therapy. It never crosses the line into unseemly confidences but I found it hard to read without weeping. Dunn disarms the formlessness of grief and shapes it. "Sandra's Mobile" sobs out its last line: "On her last night,/Trying to stay awake, I saw love crowned/In tears and wooden birds and candlelight./She did not wake again. To prove our love/Each gull, each gull, each gull, turned into dove." Dunn is trying to keep his wife alive and with him by writing about her. In the last poem, "Leaving Dundee," he writes: "She spoke of what I might do 'afterwards.'/'Go, somewhere else.' I went north to Dundee./Tomorrow I won't live here any more,/Nor leave alone. My love, say you'll come with me." I cannot judge whether his poems would comfort the bereaved. I suspect his wife would have recognised herself in this album of sorrows, but it is impossible to be sure.
To imagine the wives reading the poems over their husbands' shoulders is not entirely frivolous-it is an indicator of whether the poets are playing fair. For these poems are acts of possession and the fact that they will never be read by the wives confers a freedom that can make for uncomfortable results. If Sylvia Plath were able to read Birthday Letters, the effect might be incendiary. It is in Ted Hughes' urgent poems that the peculiarity of a husband appropriating a wife's life and death becomes most apparent. Birthday Letters are driven by an energy closer to fury than grief. They are territorial poems in which Hughes retains an illusion of the private space that once existed between them (hard when Plath has become public property). At the same time they are written for a public and to set a record straight; when he addresses poems to "You" it seems a slippery conceit.
Many of Hughes's poems hinge on Sylvia's American ways. In Paris, in Spain, in Devon-everywhere her response is American and antithetical to his own. It is as if the marriage were a failure to translate from the American. In "The Rabbit Catcher," Hughes describes Sylvia's iron face behind the wheel, her dangerous driving, her failure to appreciate the English countryside as a native would (as he himself does). It is an unsettling poem. "Inaccessible/in your dybbuk fury, babies/Hurled into the car, you drove." It is not that he is getting the better part of the argument (he is hard on himself, too) but that now there is no one to slam the car door in disagreement at him, or to justify her rant about England's shabby coastline. The silence that encloses these poems is uncomfortable and sad. Hughes seems to be impersonating Plath, not reviving her.
Hughes refers to Plath's own poems as if they were the enemy. His enemy-and hers. He describes them as if they were physical, an extra body part, close to deformity yet as inevitable as an Adam's apple or a camel's hump. In "The Minotaur" they fight after she destroys one of his family heirlooms. And he wonders (vainly?) whether it was he that set her most lethal poems in motion. He angrily advises her to harness her anger in her work: "Get that shoulder under your stanzas, and we'll be away. Deep in the cave of your ear/The goblin snapped his fingers/So what had I given him? The bloody end of the skein/That unravelled your marriage,/Left your children echoing." These poems were not written out of ordinary grief-the emotional cargo is more complex. Over and over, he revisits her face, her "rubbery" African lips, her brown eyes that were all performance: determined diamonds that could get what they wanted. His description is painterly, dispassionate. In "Red" he describes their bedroom, a place that neither Hardy nor Dunn would have been able to endure: "Our room was red. A judgement chamber./Shut casket for gems. The carpet of blood/Patterned with darkenings, congealments./The curtains-ruby corduroy blood." Out of this redness, he describes the saving graces of blue: "Blue was better for you. Blue was wings." And the last line in the book, "But the jewel you lost was blue" comes as a shock because it achieves what is missing elsewhere. It grieves selflessly for her-as the best poems about dead wives should.
Kate Kellaway is literary editor of the Observer
Published: 13 May 2014
by Douglas Dunn; introduced by Andrew McCulloch
The conflict between engagement with the world and withdrawal from it – or, as the Scots poet Douglas Dunn put it, between “social responsibility” and “romantic sleep” – goes back at least as far as Horace who, after defeat at the battle of Philippi, started to write poetry in the peaceful surroundings of his Sabine farm. Closer to home, Andrew Marvell found “fair quiet” in the garden of General Fairfax, who retired to his estate at Nun Appleton in Yorkshire after refusing to take part in Cromwell’s attack on Scotland. And it was Voltaire’s Candide whose experiences led him to the conclusion that we must look after our own garden. Whether, by this, he meant that we need to retreat from the world or try and improve it, however, is left deliberately unclear. Speaking of Dunn, Sean O’Brien reminds us that “having it both ways is one of the functions of pastoral. While the poet may be miles away, nursing his pessimism or his garden, his seclusion is indicated by the large tricolour brandished from an upstairs window”.
The tension between withdrawal and engagement is at the heart of Dunn’s tenth full-length collection (2000) in which “A European Dream” appeared. The title poem is full of explicitly Marvellian echoes as Dunn, in the “field-sized republic” of his own garden, settles into a mood of alert meditation. But it is not synoptic comprehension to which “A European Dream” aspires so much as the existential understanding to which dreams can sometimes bring us. Stumbling through the dreadful forests of European history, the speaker’s comfortable Scottish identity – “thornproof Border tweeds”, “Scottish brogues”, “briefcase and umbrella” – is gradually torn away to leave him in his garden, on his knees, “with the sensation of tending millions of graves”. To turn over the soil is to smell again the blood by which it is inevitably soaked.
I dreamt I missed the bus from Łomza down to Warsaw.It was raining, a rain that varnished skin and clothes. I wandered past the turn for Ostrałenka, preferring Views of thin horses in pastures by the stagnant roadsides To thumbable cars and big trucks from Gdynia and Gdansk. Policemen, farmers, and postmen with airmails passed me; They paid me no attention, in my thornproof Border tweeds, My briefcase and umbrella, as my Scottish brogues Leathered the tarmac, a credit to Hoggs of Fife. They might have thought me just another journalist Pedestrian factfinding in industrial Ruritania Instead of someone dreaming what almost happened. Words in my mouth, as I talked to myself, were strangers To each other. Crossroads’ traffic, changing gear in Polish, Was language of great charm and great Copernicus, Spoken Chopin, the passion of Slavonic eloquence. Night fell with cushioned landings on the active forests. Wooded nocturnes made me feel that the continent Widened across humanity’s north-European plain As tops of conifers twinkled in the starlight With epic whisperings that said “ ”. Wolf, bear and bison staggered from the dens of species, Hunted down, parked, tamed, zoo’d, or modernized, Turned into jerkins or the privileged plateful. Time, too, was walking in the night, counting the graves, Re-paragraphing chronicles of howls and tears. I heard a river wash its scraps of sunken armour. Sword-shards, helmets, crankshafts, to a listening ear Sounded as sub-aqueous and subterranean nudges On skulls and bones and residue of hoof and steel, Eyes and flesh, the pure substance of massed memories, melted Into historical compost. I dreamt the darkest night I ever knew and time was strolling beside me Down that road at the hour of no cars and no one. Time Felt disinclined to lend a hand and help me through. “Feel hard and think historical” – I left the road Out of obedience to my sturdy aphorism With golf umbrella up and a firmly gripped briefcase And through long, lighted windows I saw kissing of hands At a big do beneath archaic chandeliers As chauffeurs polished limousines by candlelight, Their little vodkas balanced on their polished cars. For several surreal moments I was at the soirée Kissing the hand of this one, that one, being diplomatic, Temporarily suave in black tie and dinner jacket Or just as out-of-place in Border tweed (three-piece) Among the ball-gowned and Old European tuxedo’d Counts and Margraves, leaders, luminaries, a cardinal, A consumptive poet, generals, celebrated courtesans, Which is to say too little of East Prussians, Muscovian footpads, Lithuanians and leather Scots Pedlars and mercenaries, Swedes, Red Cavalrymen, Ubiquitous Italian waiters and Parisian chefs Voluble with genius and pedigree’d certification, Greatcoated Tartar grooms and Cossack major-domos. Then I was fighting off the tugs and rips of briars In multiplying forests, or watching my wife Led one way and my children the other, myself that way, At the dummy station among the tight-leashed dogs In the stench of cattle-truck excrement, with glimpsed timetables Listing departures for Vienna, and city, and town,And the grin of the officer with his hands on his hips. I shouted, as I ran through the forest In the endless night, very deep with timber inwit, Running like a tormented innocent through slumber Twisted by European odiousness and what happened In that neck of the woods. I cried againTo myself and the millions as I ran on, Umbrella ripped from my hand and my briefcase dropped Into a gurgling drainage ditch, my “life’s work” Bundled down to its watery rot where croaking toads live And my suit made by Stewart and Christie of Edinburgh Ripped into the rags of one hungering for want, torn by Hunger for hunger and a loud curse on all comfort, Hunger for lyrical anger, for righteous indignation, Vituperative and lonely in the forests of hopelessness. I woke up as a man beaten, scratched and filthy In the torn clothes of an interior adventure Shouting, “Shrive me more for what I haven’t committed! Negate even my soul if I have one as I plead before The pagan God of kindness who doesn’t exist!” History’s wide-boys and murderers tittered and giggled, Experts in , forgetfulness, and shamelessPersistence in their arts of perpetuity and success. “Goodbye”, I said to myself, parting company with My own certainties, my body, my name, my language. It is disagreeable, to tend your garden, on your knees, With the sensation of tending millions of graves.
Douglas Dunn (1997)