The Perceval Press Anthology of Verse 2010

March 2010

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The Timber
Sure thou didst flourish once! and many springs,
Many bright mornings, much dew, many showers,
Pass'd o'er thy head; many light hearts and wings,
Which now are dead, lodg'd in thy living bowers.

And still a new succession sings and flies;
Fresh groves grow up, and their green branches shoot
Towards the old and still enduring skies,
While the low violet thrives at their root.

But thou beneath the sad and heavy line
Of death, doth waste all senseless, cold, and dark;
Where not so much as dreams of light may shine,
Nor any thought of greenness, leaf, or bark.

And yet--as if some deep hate and dissent,
Bred in thy growth betwixt high winds and thee,
Were still alive--thou dost great storms resent
Before they come, and know'st how near they be.

Else all at rest thou liest, and the fierce breath
Of tempests can no more disturb thy ease;
But this thy strange resentment after death
Means only those who broke--in life--thy peace.
-Henry Vaughan


Night on the cold plain,
invisible sands lift,
peripheral shadows stir,

space between light and dark
shrouding secrets;
old trades draped grey.

Here too poppies fall,
petals blown on broken ground,
seeds scattered on stone

and this bright bloom,
newly cropped,
leaves pale remains,

fresh lines cut;
the old sickle wind
sharp as yesterday.
-John Hawkhead, 2009


Patriotism, when it wants to make itself felt in the domain of learning, is a dirty fellow who should be thrown out of doors.
-Arthur Schopenhauer


I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.

I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood
So that I could break the rule.
I learnt all the words and broke them up
To make a single word: Homeland...
-Mahmoud Darwish


From 'Prayers of Atonement'
You came to me to open my eyes,
your body a glance a window a mirror,
you arrived as night comes to the owl
to show him in darkness all necessary things.

And I learned: a name for every eyelash and nail
for every hair on flesh uncovered, made light,
and the fragrance of childhood, of resin and pine,
was the sweet fragrance of our bodies' night.

If there were torments - then they voyaged toward you
my white sail on course toward your dark night.
Now, allow me to leave, let me go, let me go
to bow on the shores of forgiveness.
-Lea Goldberg


Columbus' Revenge
A trip into the unknown is always something
that can make us happy.
Therefore it's important to see happiness
as a phase, and the unknown as the first thing
you see around.

See something as the unknown
because what makes it
distant makes it close at the same time.

The shores from which you set sail are
a completely individual matter.
The point of departure stays unprotected by nature.
Everything we were turns into oil.
Unbutton your shirt and
take a look over the fence, jellyfish are taking
over the sea.

The unknown demands that you embrace it
as the desire to fall
or help when you need it
Your trip must become
Columbus' revenge,
an expedition that will institute you as
a retired officer or a
chameleon between love and silence.
-Marko Pogacar


De Profundis
There is a stubble field on which a black rain falls.
There is a tree which, brown, stands lonely here.
There is a hissing wind which haunts deserted huts---
How sad this evening.

Past the village pond
The gentle orphan still gathers scanty ears of corn.
Golden and round her eyes are gazing in the dusk
And her lap awaits the heavenly bridegroom.

Returning home
Shepherds found the sweet body
Decayed in the bramble bush.

A shade I am remote from sombre hamlets.
The silence of God
I drank from the woodland well.

On my forehead cold metal forms.
Spiders look for my heart.
There is a light that fails in my mouth.

At night I found myself upon a heath,
Thick with garbage and the dust of stars.
In the hazel copse
Crystal angels have sounded once more.
-Georg Trakl


Archaic Torso of Apollo
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
-Rainer Maria Rilke


For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid
There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot--air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That's the world, and we all live there.
-William Stafford


The Widow's Lament in Springtime
SORROW is my own yardwhere the new grassflames as it has flamedoften before but notwith the cold firethat closes round me this year.Thirtyfive years I lived with my husband.The plumtree is white todaywith masses of flowers.Masses of flowersload the cherry branchesand color some bushesyellow and some redbut the grief in my heartis stronger than theyfor though they were my joyformerly, today I notice themand turned away forgetting.Today my son told methat in the meadows,at the edge of the heavy woodsin the distance, he sawtrees of white flowers.I feel that I would liketo go thereand fall into those flowersand sink into the marsh near them.
-William Carlos Williams


Dennis Hopper
(on the occasion of receiving a star on Hollywood Boulevard, 26th march, 2010.)
Dennis Hopper has come to be considered by many a legendary and legendarily-eccentric director and actor in the movie business. In the short attention spans of most moviegoers and critics, he is someone who has seemed to regularly rise out of the ashes of self-inflicted chaos, surprising us with his originality and wit as an artist, and defying the odds by somehow staying alive physically and professionally. I think he would be the first to admit that this is not an entirely inaccurate perception of his career. In the public's cultural consciousness, increasingly dependent on celebrity-driven and disposable story-telling and performance, Dennis has seemed to vanish for long periods of time, as far as many people were concerned. Although he might also jokingly agree with that notion, to those who have known and valued him as an artist and as a man over the years, he has never vanished, never stopped asking questions, never stopped searching for and finding inspiration in work and life.

Dennis is my friend. We met while working on a movie called "The Indian Runner" some twenty years ago. Short-lived friendships are mostly the norm in the movie business - it seems to go with the transient, stop-start nature of our jobs, the travelling, and the physical separations involved. There are people you get to know very well during a brief, intense period of work, and often do not see again for years as your individual careers and lives meander in their various directions. If and when you do see each other again you often find that what originally connected you so strongly has mostly withered away somehow. That did not happen with Dennis and me, and it has not been the case with his many other friends. We have continued to share a mutual curiosity about not only movie story-telling, but also in regard to photography, painting, and a generally artistic way of living life -- that is, an interest in remaining consistently present and open to all kinds of inspiration. Aside from being a complete and fertile artist, Dennis has, most importantly, remained a constant source of ideas, inspiration, and humour for his friends and colleagues. This positive influence has manifested itself in his unceasing interest in people and their behaviour, in the unpredictability of life -- an openness that has often involved changing his mind and letting go of pre-conceived notions regarding art and morality in his life, and in the lives of others. Like any true artist, he has continually learned from, suffered over, and, as frequently as possible, laughed at his own mistakes and apparent dead-ends. He keeps himself honest, and he keeps those around him honest.

"Why do you say that?", "Where did that come from?", "Who did it first?", "Why does it matter?", "Maybe I'm wrong.", "I love you." -- these are some of the phrases likely to come out of his mouth at any time. His candour and essential modesty inspire fearlessness in others. As much as he deserves this star on Hollywood Boulevard and the many other professional honours he has received, it is this ability to instill a degree of fearlessness and wonder that sets him apart as an artist and as a friend.

Dennis Hopper was born in Dodge City, Kansas. Perhaps the finest and most honest poet that state has produced was William Stafford. In a 1971 interview he once said something that could have come straight from Dennis:

"I keep following this sort of hidden river of my life, you know, whatever the topic or impulse which comes, I follow it along trustingly. And I don't have any sense of its coming to a kind of crescendo, or of its petering out either. It is just going steadily along."
-Viggo Mortensen

Last edited: 27 February 2012 13:19:22