love, suffering, despair, madness, obsession, descent
Because the latest messenger has gone,
my pale collections and delivered notes
are scattered everywhere – in trays,
in Cambridge cups and silver-rooms.
(Sticklebacks nest in my larger spoons.)
I am myself a fisher of sorts
and I fish green pike in redundant moats;
occasionally, I am owl of tombs,
a donkey’s back or half a goat’s,
and I call each flower Katharine
by desperate day and night.
I am waking germ in a field of blight
and a heart of heaping sin,
and my mind is mad and has mushroomed in,
and I call each flower Katharine.
And I call each flower Katharine
where the blossoms flame and stray.
My darling, my dearest Katharine,
I have placed my love in clay,
and a dark and desperate flower grows
and gobbles the joy therein –
it is now by night that the brightest day
is shinnying summer-thin;
but Katharine, my Katharine,
Kathy, Kathy, go in,
for my heart has mangled my brain to bran
and my love is murder and sin.
The loops of hawthorn flutter all day
but my darling, my darling, I’m done
with the wildered stars that confuse the sky
and the blackness that is one.
I call each flower Katharine.
Each beauty begets each pain.
Where the desperate violence lies and groans,
the mind weeps a furious rain;
and last but not least the lupins flare
and I call them Katharine!
Since I went from you, I’ve been horrified
by the cruelties closing in.
Ah, Kathy, Kathy, what will become of you
and your voice as soft and low
as the shadowing whistle of verdurous leaves
stirred by the gusts that blow?
And what of your petalled arms and breasts
that were treasures in my hands?
The only ream is a broken star
and a blaze in forsaken lands.
I’ll burn the heart and the mind of flame
and I’ll do my best to win;
but my dearest love, my sweetest love,
I shall call it Katharine.
I am fighting flames and my heart is bent
on the flowers that never rim
a tomb as lost as an oyster-pearl
that I’ve labelled Katharine.
But the label is a useless wrong
for your tiny, bitten hands
and the pitiless pointers going in
to the love-deserted strands
with a waste of pain and an empty sea
and Katharine on my mind
and the leaping storms and the bartered loves
in the summer-winds that blind.
My Katharine, my Katharine,
I have called to you all day
but the night has twined like monster weed
and the buckles burst the way.
I am led beyond by a file of rust
and a palmed hand like a fist
and a desperate ritual driven up
like a dark moon through dark mist;
but I pause and pander to any stem
that is broken into bud,
and the poppies that are fluttering
are jets of your brooding blood;
and every petal and every vein
is Katharine through and through.
What should I care for an Amazon wish
or kaleidoscopic dew
when every English field and fold
is alive with Katharine still,
and the wavering spray of a honey-tree
is an idee fixe at will?
But why should I even wish to write
with thousands who scribble a rhyme?
I cannot begin to substantiate you
with the dull verse I design.
But what would your mannerisms be
if I could not make them sing:
your sidelong glance or the fluttering dance
of your gentle mimicry?
your swearing that was as soft a sound
as the spiralling leaves on pools,
your downcast eyes or your tyrant-love
for the man who broke the rules? -
the rules he made with a wringing grasp
that was everywhere-despair -
a weeping child who was weeping still
though loving your loving care.
My dark-haired darling, you’re bending down,
you’re kissing my lips away.
I am crying until your bosom may drown
in my wavering tears astray.
Your humour is what I cannot bear
and perhaps the tender ease
with which you will spurn my agony
as a maniac’s disease.
I am bending down to the brief, bright plants
and up to the blossom-tree
but every beauty is Katharine
and the light has gone from me;
and everywhere in my silver-rooms
the portraits panic the air,
and conjured out of the merest sound
my Katharine standing there!
I shall take to my tumbled tower again
and the failure-flowers sow,
and the lavender-press of the dying plants
shall tender me to and fro.
I shall never notice the flowers again
but Kathy, Kathy, there is
the violent pain in the misery
of the unremembered kiss.
Remember me, for I think you won’t,
you will think me a beast beyond,
a swirling stream that you visited
that you’ll turn to a dulled mill-pond.
Remember me, for my love is still
in the memory in these hymns.
All night all nights’ hours I’ve repeated here
a thousand, thousand Katharines!