Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Raymond Barrow
 George Campbell
 Owen Campbell
 H. D. Carberry
 Martin Carter
 Frank A. Collymore
 A. N. Forde
 Martin Gray
 Wilson Harris
 Cecil Herbert
 K. E. Ingram
 E. McG. Keane
 George Lamming
 Ferdinand Levy
 Una Marson
 Hilda McDonald
 Basil McFarlane
 J. E. Clare McFarlane
 E. M. Roach
 W. Adolphe Roberts
 A. J. Seymour
 Philip M. Sherlock
 M. G. Smith
 Harold M. Telemaque
 H. A. Vaughan
 Vivian Virtue
 Derek Walcott
 Daniel Williams

Title: Kyk-over-Al
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080046/00015
 Material Information
Title: Kyk-over-Al
Uniform Title: Bim
Alternate Title: Kyk over Al
Physical Description: v. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: British Guiana Writers' Association
Kykoveral (Guyana)
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Georgetown Guyana
Publication Date: -2000
Frequency: two no. a year
Subject: Guyanese literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature (English) -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: review   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Guyana
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began in 1945?
Dates or Sequential Designation: -49/50 (June 2000).
Numbering Peculiarities: Publication suspended, 19 -1983.
Issuing Body: Issued by: British Guiana Writers' Association, 1945-19 ; Kykoveral, 1985-
General Note: Vol. for Apr. 1986 called also golden edition that includes anthology of selections from nos. 1-28 (1945-1961).
General Note: Description based on: No. 30 (Dec. 1984); title from cover.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080046
Volume ID: VID00015
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 12755014
lccn - 86649830
issn - 1012-5094

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
        Advertising 1
        Advertising 2
        Advertising 3
        Advertising 4
        Advertising 5
        Advertising 6
        Advertising 7
        Advertising 8
        Advertising 9
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
    Raymond Barrow
        Page 1
    George Campbell
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Owen Campbell
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    H. D. Carberry
        Page 10
    Martin Carter
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Frank A. Collymore
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    A. N. Forde
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
    Martin Gray
        Page 22
    Wilson Harris
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
    Cecil Herbert
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    K. E. Ingram
        Page 31
        Page 32
    E. McG. Keane
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
    George Lamming
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    Ferdinand Levy
        Page 44
    Una Marson
        Page 45
        Page 46
    Hilda McDonald
        Page 47
    Basil McFarlane
        Page 48
    J. E. Clare McFarlane
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    E. M. Roach
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
    W. Adolphe Roberts
        Page 57
        Page 58
    A. J. Seymour
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
    Philip M. Sherlock
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    M. G. Smith
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
    Harold M. Telemaque
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
    H. A. Vaughan
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
    Vivian Virtue
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
    Derek Walcott
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
    Daniel Williams
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
Full Text

No. 22.



West Indian Poetry

Edited by





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Guiana Daily Graphic


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Raymond Barrow (B.H.)
Dawn is a fisherman .. .. ..
There is a mystic splendour .... .. 1
Low is the wind .. .... 2

George Campbell (Jca.)
Litany .. .. 2
History Makers .. .. 3
Worker .. .... .. 3
A Cloud .. .. .. .. 4
Dawn .. .. .. 4
Holy .. .. .. .. 5

Owen Campbell (St. Vincent)
W e .. .. .. 5
The Washerwomen .. .. .. 7
Photograph .. .. .. 8
Ubi Gentium .. .. .. .. .. .. 9

H. D. Carberry (Jca.)
Nature .. 10

Martin Carter (B.G.)
Death of a slave .. .. 11
Voices .. .... .. .. .... 12
Words .. .. .. .. .. .. 13
University of Hunger .. .. .. .. 13

Frank A. Collymore (Bdos.)
Hymn to the Sea .. .. 15
Music at Night .... .. .. 16
Hazy Days .. .. .. .. .. 17
Lullaby .. .... .. 18
Schooner .. .. .. .. 18

A. N. Forde (Grenada)
Day before Ash Wednesday .. .. .. .. 19
Canes by the Roadside .. .... 20
Sea Bird .. 21

Martin Gray (Jca.)
Ants .... .. 22
Circus .. .. 23

Wilson Harris (B.G.)
The death of Hector .... 23
The Stone of the Sea .... .. 24
Charcoal .. .. .. .. .. 25
Troy .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 26


Cecil Herbert (T'dad.)
Song ..
The Sea and the Hills
And the Pouis Sing

K. E. Ingram (Jca.)
There were those
The hills are like great
Okra Flowers ..

E. McG. Keane (St. Vincent)
My love are you strong ..
Fragments and Patterns
Interlude calypso

George Lamming (B'dos.)
Birthday Poem for Clifford Sealy

Ferdinand Levy (Jca.)
The Caribbean .

Una Marson (Jca.)
The Impossible
Where Death was Kind

Hilda McDonald (Antigua)
Dawn ..

Basil McFarlane (J'ca.)
Music a kind of sleep
Jacob and the Angel
J. E. Clare McFarlane (J'ca.)
Sweet are the nights of May
My Country

E. M. Roach (Tobago)
To my mother .
Pray that the poem come
He plucked a burning stylus
I am the Archipelago

W. Adolphe Roberts (J'ca.)
The Cat
On a monument to Marti
Villanelle of the Living Pan


.. 45

S 47

.. 48


. 57
.. 58


S 28
. 30

. 32

. 37




A. J. Seymour (B.G.)
For Christopher Columbus ... 59
Sun is a Shapely Fire .. .. .. 63
First of August .. .. 65
The Legend of Kaieteur .. .. 66

Philip M. Sherlock (J'ca.)
Pocomania .. 70
Clear as the clear Sun's light ... 71
Jamaican Fisherman ... 73
Ascension .. 73
A beauty too of twisted trees 76

M. G. Smith (J'ca.)
Mellow Oboe 77
Madonna and Child .77

Harold M. Telemaque (T'dad)
In our land ... .. 81
Roots ... .. 82
Adina .. ... .. 83
Little Black Boy ... 83
To Those .... 84

H. A. Vaughan (B'dos.)
The Tree .. 84
For certain demagogues .. .. 35
To a Tudor Street Girl ...... 85
Dark Voices ..... 86
Revelation .. .. 86

Vivian Virtue (J'ca.)
The Web .. .. .. 87
King Solomon and Queen Balkis .88

Derek Walcott (St. Lucia)
A City's Death by Fire ..... 92
The Yellow Cemetery .. .... 92
From Henri Christophe .. 95
As John to Patmos ..... 96

Daniel Williams (St. Vincent)
Over Here .... 97
Time. O My Testator ... 98
Letter for a Friend ... 99

Preface to the First Edition

In the original Greek, an anthology is a collection of flowers. From
more than a score of gardens up and down the British Caribbean, I have
gathered poems and put them together within the confines of this special
issue of Kykoveral, as a selection of the beauty which West Indian poets
have created and continue to image forth, as they come to a sense of their
powers, look upon the environment around them, or on the heart within,
and celebrate what they find there in disciplined emotional reaction.

Nearly everyone in this region has heard of some at least of these
poets; for instance, the work of Derek Walcott, Lamming, Forde and many
others has been presented weekly by the B.B.C. The little Reviews like
Kykoveral, Bim and the occasional compilations like Focus have been a
vehicle for work by others, and the West Indian press from time to time
has carried reviews of West Indian poetry and prose. But there are
few who have seen the poems, so striking or delightful to the ear or at-
tractively quoted in reviews, and of these fewer still have attempted to
collect the individual booklets and the magazines in which they have
been printed. This selection of poems is therefore a link between the
people and their poets, preserving for the people the poems they have lost
or never found, and furnishing the poets with an audience of a size and
quality some have perhaps lacked, but certainly all would desire to have.

Once it had been decided that the purpose of the anthology would
be to introduce the poets of the region to the people of the British Carib-
bean, two things followed. The poems had to be chosen for delight and
hence were unlikely to be experimental and may not include a poet's
work in his latest phase; again, there being a relative dearth of published
work in the West Indies, apart from magazine articles generally con-
demned to early oblivion, a compiler may not be able to include pieces
fully representative of the poet's distinct personality as if he had had a
book of the poet's work before him.

What else would the West Indian reader look for in an anthology
prepared for his delight? He may want to know that the poets are
among the best in his region, that their individual range of perception
is more or less represented, and that if possible they express the rarer
moods, the more elevated thoughts and the more impassioned feelings
of the West Indian scene. It is for pleasure that these poems have
primarily been chosen, but there is also the possibility that a collection
of this kind may express the spiritual and intellectual identity of the
West Indies and may help us to win the feeling of being spiritually at
home in these imaginative writings which have their birth in the pecu-
liar conditions of our West Indian people, a feeling that no other litera-
ture, however splendid, can give us


I should perhaps say something of the history of the anthology idea.

It is remarkable that in the past three or four years persons in var-
ious territories have expressed their desire to produce a West Indian
anthology of some kind or other. It must have been mooted before,
but the idea was certainly mentioned to Philip Sherlock as early as
1944 when he first came to British Guiana. BIM, however made the first
practical step in 1946 with the Little Anthology included in its issue of
mid year 1946. Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps produced a British
Caribbean compilation in 1949, in the nature of a footnote to the pre-
dominantly American writing collected in their "Poetry of the Negro",
and W. Adolphe Roberts and Wycliffe Bennett are at present preparing
a large-scale Anthology of poetry in the Caribbean, designed to present
work of the writers of the British Caribbean together with poems from
the French, Dutch and Spanish-speaking countries in, and around the
shores of the Caribbean. These latter poems would be in the original
languages with translations. The Pioneer Press in Jamaica and the
Readers and Writers Group in Trinidad have also stated their intention
to compile anthologies.
We must also include a reference to the exhibition staged at the
Institute of Jamaica by the Poetry League of that island in August, 1951,
when books, photographs, lectures, etc., all added up to an anthology-
in-situ of Caribbean poetry. I wonder whether Clare McFarlane and
Bennett and Coulthard were conscious of the interest of the poets in the
This interest in anthology-making is healthy and worthwhile because
a collection of poems finally rests on the personal choice and even the
taste of its editor, and the shortcomings of one anthology are made
good by its contemporaries and successors, while the reader, that ultimate
consumer, is better able to compare and contrast and exercise his criti-
cal faculty when he has before him many men's bouquets.
There is one tendency in West Indian poetry at the present time
which may bear emphasis. It is a tendency common to all colonial
literatures developing emotional lives of their own and shaping their
unique voices, that they pass through the phase of a certain pattern
before they find a local habitation and a name. First of all, there is
identification with the gestures and attitudes of the home country to
which allegiance is held, then the literature rebels against them, although
acutely conscious of the absence of new loyalties to put in their place,
and in the third phase, the land in which the people live and move and
have their being, begins to assert its presence and to supply the dynamic
necessary for developing the new voice. This pattern does not necessarily
synchronise with the growth of the community from dependent into
independent government. Although they are both dominions, and in
spite of the difference between the origins of European settlement and
a slave society, I have the impression that New Zealand and Australia
are only now finding their authentic literary voices, in the same way
that the West Indies is finding its own,


We said just now that the land in which a community lives begins
to assert its presence after a while, at the same time that the community
is modifying the environment. Not that there is a poetry of geography
in the simple sense of the term, but that the apprentice tongue of the
poet and the community seems to begin by calling the names of things
that lie round about. There is much direct statement of the West Indian
scene to be found in West Indian poetry, as if the poets feel the need
of supplying the background of their emotional response together with
that response, in some unconscious desire, to bridge the gap between
themselves and the people for whom they are writing. (this is the
assumed audience so much in a poet's mind that when he describes
things he experiences, he uses the form of words likely to share that
experience with others). Together with this statement of environment,
other themes running through West Indian verse are the great com-
monplace of love, and a certain preoccupation with religion.

When one remembers the plastic theocentric tendency of the African
mind, through whose corridors pass the ghosts of old gods and spiritual
unseen influences, it seems clear that one influence which would shape
the gathering imagination of the West Indian poet would be religion.
Somewhat like England in the days of Bunyan, the Bible was one book
which linked the African slave with the thought of a new world to
remedy the topsy-turvyness of the one he knew, and in gratitude both
to this book of hope and to its messengers, the Church, the half-empty
and hungry imagination of the African nourished its springs on religious
tales. Perhaps one off-shot was the development of a fatalistic attitude
("the Lord's will be done") but certainly there was created a reservoir
of striking religious imagery.
There was a temptation, fortunately resisted, to compile this an-
thology on the model of the "Spirit of Man" by Robert Bridges. The
collection would have begun with George Campbell's "Litany", followed
by Raymond Barrow's "Dawn is a Fisherman", Telemaque's "In our Land"
and Derek Walcott's "As John to Patmos", and then wandered its way
through a group of love poems by Clare McFarlane, Keane, Una Marson,
Herbert and Roach. There would have been a middle section of "Mad-
onna and Child", "A Beauty too of twisted Trees", "Jacob and the Angel",
and "Magdalen" with other groupings of cognate poems. But to have
adopted that model would have been to let the poems tell their tale -
a fine tale, mind you at the expense of the poets themselves,
It is a matter for regret that the anthology does not include any of
the long poems or narrative poems written in the region e.g. Clare
'McFarlane's "Daphne", the writer's "For Christopher Columbus" and
"The Legend of Kaieteur", or "Epitaph for the Young" (Derek Walcott).

A long poem is a flower bed after all, not a single flower; it is a
collection in itself with its own reason for being, and its own integrity.
Nor have I entered into the field of dialect and folk tales where Louise
Bennett in Jamaica and Quow in British Guiana are still the delight of
hundreds of readers. This selection of poems is an introduction to the


work of these living West Indian poets, in the hope that this will
stimulate interest in their work and create a demand to see more of that
work in print.

When all is said and done, the maker of an :irilhl-I.: is always
assailed with doubts and beset with fears. In his individual approach
to poets and their work, has he co-ordinated every possible feature, for
instance, has he given poets space in his collection according to his
assessment of their importance, and has each important phase of the
poet's work been represented? He he, from the context of his own
age-grouping, been unsympathetic to the work of the older poets and
lacking in appreciation of the work of those younger than he? Or has
he, in his anxiety to do all justice, leant over backwards? Of the pub-
lished poems that he has seen, has he made a fair attempt to correct
his own proclivities and see the best, and with poets whom he has
asked to assist him by selecting from their unpublished work, has he
given them an advantage over those whose selections he made himself?
But a choice must be exercised and a decision taken, unless one is to
deny that special human quality of taking one's stand, and this anthology
with the shortcomings so evident to its maker goes on its way to readers.
The successes belong to the poets, who have so willingly co-operated in
this venture but the imperfections to the editor.

In this personal harvest, I have had to forego many single poems
of distinction of which I have knowledge (such as Alwyn Rodway's
"Telephone" or Cleveland Hamilton's "Symbols"). There would be many
such singles scattered about the British Caribbean of which I would not
know and which belong to another and more comprehensive collection.

I have omitted a section-by-section analysis of this anthology because
I am too near to it at present to contrast, properly, say the romantic
movement in W.I. poetry as exemplified by trends in George Campbell
and Derek Walcott, with the classical trends in Vaughn and Virtue and
Roberts. My main purpose has been to reproduce the poetry now for
later examination, comment, and discussion at every level. The juxta-
position of this mass of West Indian writing will raise its own succession
of differences and resemblances in the reader's mind. And as I said be-
fore, I have resisted the impulse to devote very much space to the experi-
mental phases of our poetry, that marginal land of imaginative creation
which is always being put under cultivation by the pioneering poet. I
could enlarge the list of problematic questions which arose, but they are a
measure of my responsibility only. So let us make an end of them and be-
fore we turn to the poets themselves who are arranged roughly in order
of age so far as that is possible, let us remember the function of the poet.

In any community, the poet shares with the painter and the musician
(and in a degree greater than they, in a young community where he has
an importance he has lost in older societies) the task of supplying an
imaginative record of the experiences which all the members undergo. In
his images they discover their hopes and their shortcomings detached from


the daily round. He creates out of his sensibility the positive and en-
couraging view of human life necessary for the development of the com-
munity and as B. Ifor Evans puts it, he points "beyond the range of the
observed to all that imagination can achieve." Perhaps the responsibility is
not always fully realized by the poets, or clearly recognized by the people,
but there is a deep need for a bridge of communication, so that a unique
way of life may be won and a culture made in which they may all rest.

The poets in this volume have been seeking to express their personal
experiences in the only ways possible to them. But what they say is of
value to us all. Adolphe Roberts who opens the anthology has his own
classicist and Greek-tinged reaction to the beauty of animal form and
historical fact, and the awareness of awakening beauty in the Caribbean
brake ("Pan is not dead, but sleeping") and at the end Derek Walcott who
closes the collection, invokes the resemblance of love for their lands com-
mon to himself and John of Patmos, sheds his tear over the ashes of
Castries, protests colour prejudice and meditates upon that other great
commonplace of death. Between them lie the individual experiences of our
British Caribbean poets, each revealing some single facet of our West
Indian life and relating it through the unifying power of metaphor to
other facets, and, collectively among them, providing the inner and
spiritual structure of what will later be the history of the British Caribbean.

-A.J.S. (1952)

The voices are surer and I have changed some of the songs; the Feder-
ation is a reality and nationhood is gathering rapidly.
The order is now alphabetical.
-A.J.S. (1957)


I wish to acknowledge gratefully the kindness of authors in granting
me permission to include their poems in this anthology.

Some of the poems in this Anthology have already appeared in print
in publications which include:- The Poetry of the Negro, A Treasury of
Jamaican Poetry, Poetry for Children, the periodicals Life and Letters
Focus, Bim, Kyk-over-al, and Caribbean Quarterly, and the various pub-
lications of the poets, nearly all of which have been privately printed.


Raymond Barrow

Dawn is a fisherman, his harpoon of light
Poised for a throw-so swiftly morning comes:
The darkness squats upon the sleeping land
Like a flung cast-net, and the black shapes of boats
Lie hunched like nesting turtles
On the flat calm of the sea.

Among the trees the houses peep at the stars
Blinking farewell, and half-awakened birds
Hurtle across the vista, some in the distance
Giving their voice self-criticised auditions.

Warning comes from the cocks, their necks distended
Like city trumpeters: and suddenly
Between the straggling fences of grey cloud
The sun, a barefoot boy, strides briskly up
The curved beach of the sky, flinging his greetings
Warmly in all directions, laughingly saying
Up, up, the day is here! Another day is here!
Raymond Barrow

There is a mystic splendour that one feels
Walking this shore in the half-light of dawn
Placing one's footprints on the sands where keels
Of ancient vessels must have beached and drawn

For there are tales that speak of glorious days
When martial shouting rang within our Bay,
And cannons thundered, and black battle haze
Clouded this sickle isle with dark affray

Those were the times when privateers fled
The predatory Brethern of the Coast;
Pirates and buccaneers-all these are dead
And all their lordly sway seems but a ghost

But even now the surf's loud thunder brings
Sound strangely clear like battle cries of old
And palm trees murmur of deep-sunken things
Of buried treasure chests.. .and Morgan's gold


Raymond Barrow

Low is the wind upon your English moors;
Dark is your city with its midnight sleep;
And I unbraced must wander out-of-doors
Walking your highways where the snow lies deep.
For when the darkness falls I needs must keep
A rendezvous with my most treasured things;
And in your solitudes I fain would weep
At memories the silvery silence brings

Of bamboo groves and waving sugar cane --
Savannahs stretching wide to distant hills --
Blue droning reefs, and misty summer rain --
Picados' blossom-strewn, and forest rills;

But most of all, the yearning, waiting plea
On faces brown beside a tropic sea.

George Campbell

I hold the splendid daylight in my hands
Inwardly grateful for a lovely day.
Thank you life.
Daylight like a fine fan spread from my hands
Daylight like scarlet poinsettia
Daylight like fellow cassia flowers
Daylight like clean water
Daylight like green cacti
Daylight like sea sparkling with white horses
Daylight like tropic hills
Daylight like a sacrament in my hands.


George Campbell

Women stone breakers
Hammers and rocks
Tired child makers
Haphazard frocks.
Strong thigh
Rigid head
Bent nigh
Hard white piles
Of stone
Under hot sky
In the gully bed.

No smiles
No sigh
No moan.

Women child bearers
Pregnant frocks
Wilful toil sharers
Destiny shapers
History makers
Hammers and rocks.

George Campbell

Why praise him lightly when he turns to die?
Maybe the night is bright, his fiery court;
Maybe the darkness for a night of mourning.
New day: the sun's eternal sport
Watching the earth of life and death and sorrow.
Now he is dead. Is there for him tomorrow?
His Earth which claims him for her own
Full knows the lover she has sown.

Measure him? His death is living,
Living for the land which knows no death:
He wears the silken day, the veils of night
His hands that hungered at your heart a time
Are now the trees and paths, his epitaphs.
The stars can tel with their sphinx eyes
He's Earth, her lover, and surmise.


George Campbell

A cloud that was the faintest breath
Within a time of gentian blue,
And telling more about the sky
Than any dreamer ever knew.

A cloud that was a thing of light
Which any wind would take from sight
Had everything transfigured there
Beyond the sky and everywhere.

A being that was full of grace,
Right through the blue and mixed with light
A cloud that would be lost at night.

George Campbell

Dawn, 0 strange wild horse
Rushing forth,
Darkness of night in your mane
Wildness of life in your eyes.
Seeker who leapest
Into your dancing song-lights
In all the sorrow of the world:
Dawn is the waves of the sea.
O strange wild Dawn rush on
Over the breadth of the land,
Promise the height of the sun.

Today who lookest down
Thy ways of weary time,
Thy ways of weary time,
O death will arise from shadows
To-morrow ride forth with thee.
To-morrow come tranquil, Dawn,
Come peace blest.
Dawn, with thy choir-lights
Bring for the seekers flights of rest.


George Campbell

Holy be the white head of a Negro
Sacred be the black flax of a black child.
Holy be
The golden down
That will stream in the waves of the winds
And will thin like dispersing cloud.
Holy be
Heads of Chinese hair
Sea calm sea impersonal
Deep flowering of the mellow and traditional.
Heads of peoples fair
Bright shimmering from the riches of their species;
Heads of Indians
With feeling of distance and space and dusk:
Heads of wheaten gold,
Heads of peoples dark
So strong so original:
All of the earth and the sun!



In the whispering cane,
In the heat,
And the fits of rain,
And the soil clinging
To our feet
With the turned hoe-stroke;


In the white glamour
Of cotton,
And the quick colour
In waves of petals
In the sun
Soft on the ripe lime;

Owen Campbell


On a sweep of beach
By the sea,
With sway and the reach
For rope and the fish
Twined surely
In their last boredom;

We have dreamt of cities
Tall as tales in smoke of industries;
And the rumours of gold
We heard were hard on our failing faiths.

We have had word from far,
Over windswept islands and a sea,
Of a rich land calling;
And we felt its summons in the wind.

But we are fish, roped fish,
Dragged slowly to the definite doom
On the sand there waiting
The last fevers of our hot gasping.

We are prophets, knowing
Our next turnings in bewildered arcs,
Or the meek surprises
Rare in the warm swelter of hours.

Yet we are duped often
By the passage of the too rich hope
That lures this sight and hides
From us our true selves while it crosses.

So we have decided
Not to construct hope on continents,
Or leave lost hearts to rove
In the quick air, on oceans of dream.

We have decided,
To build here, on our slender soil.


Owen Campbell
Down where the river beats itself against the stones
And washes them in clouds of frothy spray,
Or foaming, fumbles through them with the thousand tones
Of an orchestra,
The women wash, and humming keep a sort of time;
And families of bubbles frisk and float away
To be destroyed,
To be destroyed,
Like all the baffled hopes that had their little suns,
Tossed on the furious drifts of disappointments.
But all the tide.
Cradles these clinging bubbles ever still, alike
The friendly little hopes that never leave the heart.

In this big hall of rushing waters women wash
And with the sound of washing,
With the steady heaving of their slender shoulders
As they rub their stubborn rags upon the boulders,
They keep a sort of time....

With their thoughts. These were unchanging
Like the persistent music here,
Of swirling waters,
The crash of wet clothes beaten on the stones,
The sound of wind in leaves,
Or frog croaks after dusk, and the low moan
Of the big sea fighting the river's mouth.
The ever changing patterns in the clouds
Before their dissolution into rain;
Or the gay butterflies manoeuvering
Among the leafy camouflage that clothes the banks
And hides their spent remains when they collapse and die;
Arc symbols of their hopes and gaudy plans
Which once they dreamt. But finally they learn to hope
And make plans less elaborate.
It was the same
With those that washed before them here
And passed leaving the soap-stained stones
Where others now half stoop like devotees
To pagan gods.


They have resigned themselves to day long swishing
Of wet cloth chafing the very stone;
And the big symphony of waters rushing
Past clumps of tall stems standing alone,
Apart, like band-leaders, or sentinels,
They must hear the heavy hum
Of wings of insects overgrown,
Cleaving the air like bombers on a plotted course.
They must hear the long 'Hush' of the wind in leaves
As dead ones flutter down like living things
Until the shadows come.


Owen Campbell

Island hiding in the haze there,
Ripple population,
Shades of light and colour,
Dip and splash of quick oar,
And the fast foam-fever
Trembling in a harbour,
Find a lodging in a moment's breath.

The crisp wisp of slender smoke too,
Climbing from the funnel
Of a ship idle there,
Up-penciling the air
Until it wears aloft
To fading like the soft
Dreamings that are always found with us.

And that ship strangled on the beach
Drying at each sun-pour
Or rotting in the wet
Of broken wave and fete
Of foam is fortunate
In its unsensing state
While we recover for more whippings.


Owen Campbell
After the flood, lightning,
And no dove, no olive leaf,
The raven of despair goeth forth without returning.
After blood, after the march,
Sacrifice and the burnt offering, yet where is Moses?
Lost in the mist, gone,
Lost in the cloud on the mount,
Let us break from our faith, build us a calf to lead us on.
Hcre is no hope now,
Here are all bleak faces,
Here all dreams arc cracked in the ground under the sun,
Here all heart runs purple in rivers under the rain.
But we have found out
All about mirages,
And in our seasons of drear no flash could fake us;
In our deserts of wandering, we expect no pools.
And this one who dared,
Who dared hope, suffers now,
Utters his last wish fainting,-the Columbus cry;
"Give me my men but three days, give me time my masters".
.... Wait! There are birds now bearing
The tall-tale bush, and on the sea
The token, the bough floating
And fresh-green.
Under the wet of waiting
May be ground, may be Ararat;
And some wait, not with knowing
But despair.
Just beyond our trust, beyond
The edge of the dwindling acre
May be land, may be the fat land,
Few have faith.
Only time now while we wait on the wind
To find what only the sun and the wave
Knew and whispered about,
After doubt and drifting
Had broken our hearts.


H. D. Carberry

We have neither Summer nor
Neither Autumn nor Spring.
We have instead the days
When the gold sun shines on the
lush green canefields-

The days when the rain beats like
bullets on the roofs
And there is no sound but the
swish of water in the gullies
And trees struggling in the high
Jamaica winds.

Also there are the days when the
leaves fade from off guango
And the reaped canefields lic bare
and fallow to the sun.

But best of all there are the days
when the mango and the log-
wood blossom

When the bushes are full of the
sound of bees and the scent
of honey,

When the tall grass sways and
shivers to the slightest breath
of air,

When the buttercups have paved
the earth with yellow stars
And beauty comes suddenly and
the rains have gone.


Martin Carter

Above green cane arrow
is blue sky-
beneath green arrow
is brown earth-
dark is the shroud of slavery
over the river
over the forest
over the field.

Aie! black is skin
Aie! red is heart
as round it looks
over the world
over the Forest
over the sun.

in the dark earth
in cold dark earth
time plants the seeds of anger

this is another world
but above is same blue sky
same sun-
below is same deep heart of agony,

cane field is green dark green
green with life of its own
heart of slave is red deep red
red with life of its own.

day passes like long whip
over the back of slave
day is burning whip
biting the neck of slave.

but sun falls down like old man
beyond the dim line of the River
and white birds
come flying, flying, flapping at the wind
white birds like dreams come settling down.


night comes from down river
like thief -
night comes from deep forest
in a boat of silence -
dark is the shroud
the shroud of night
over the river
over the Forest
over the Field.

slave staggers and falls
face is on earth
drum is silent
silent like night
hollow like boat
between the tides of sorrow.

in the dark floor
in the cold dark earth
time plants the seeds of anger.
Martin Carter

Behind a green tree the whole sky is dying
in a sunset of rain, in an absence of birds.
The large pools of water lie down in the street
like oceans of memory sinking in sand.
The sun has committed itself far too soon
in the trials of conquest where triumph is rain-
O flower of fire in a wide vase of air
come back, come back to the house of the world.

Scarlet stone is a jewel of death
to be found in the sand when the ocean is dry
And the life of the light will stay somewhere else
near the rain and the tree when these are alone.
O first sprouting leaf and last falling fruit
Your roots came before you were given to air.

Sky only blossomed because man grew tall
from the edge of the water where stones fell and sank.
And that strange dissolution of shape into spirit
was traced from a snail and was found in a word:
O flower of fire in a wide vase of air
come back, come back to the house of the world.


Martin Carter
These poet words, nuggets out of corruption
or jewels dug from dung or speech from flesh
still bloody red, still half afraid to plunge
in the ceaseless waters foaming over death.
These poet words, nuggets no jeweller sells
across the counter of the world's confusion
but far and near, internal or external
burning the agony of earth's complaint.
These poet words have secrets locked in them
like nuggets laden with the younger sun.
Who will unlock must first himself be locked.
Who will be locked must first himself unlock.

Martin Carter
is the university of hunger the wide waste
is the pilgrimage of man the long march.
The print of hunger wanders in the land
the green tree bends above the long forgotten
the plains of life rise up and fall in spasms
the huts of men are fused in misery.

They come treading in the hoofmarks of the mule
passing the ancient bridge
the grave of pride
the sudden flight
the terror and the time.
They come from the distant village of the food
passing from middle air to middle earth
in the common hours of nakedness.
Twin bars of hunger mark their metal brows
twin seasons mock them
parching drought and flood
is the dark ones
the half sunken in the land
is they who had no voice in the emptiness
in the unbelievable
in the shadowless.


They come treading on the mud floor of the year
mingling with dark heavy waters
and the sea sound of the eyeless flitting bat.
O long is the march of men and long is the life
and wide is the span.
is air dust and the long distance of memory
is the hour of rain when sleepless toads are silent
is broken chimneys smokeless in the wind
is brown trash huts and jagged mounds of iron.

They come in long lines
toward the broad city.
Is the golden moon like a big coin in the sky
is the flood of bone beneath the floor of flesh
is the beak of sickness breaking on the stone.
O long is the march of men and long is the life
and wide is the span.
O cold is the cruel wind blowing
O cold is the hoe in the ground.

They come like sea birds
flapping in the wake of a boat
is the torture of sunset in purple bandages
is the powder of fire spread like dust in the twilight
is the water melodies of white foam on wrinkled sand.

The long streets of night move up and down
baring the thighs of a woman
and the cavern of generation
The beating drum returns and dies awav
the bearded men fall down and go to sleep
the cocks of dawn stand up and crow like bugles.

is they who rose early in the morning
watching the moon die in the dawn
is they who heard the shell blow and the iron clang
is they who had no voice in the emptiness
in the unbelievable
in the shadowless
O long is the march of men and long is the life
and wide is the span.


Frank A. Collymore

Like all who live on small islands
I must always be remembering the sea,
Being always cognizant of her presence; viewing
Her through apertures in the foliage; hearing,
When the wind is from the south, her music, and smelling
The warm rankness of her; tasting
And feeling her kisses on bright sunbathed davs;
I must always be remembering the sea.

Always, always the encircling sea,
Eternal: lazylapping, crisscrossed with stillness;
Or windruffed, aglitter with gold; and the surf
Waist-high for children, or horses for Titans;
Her lullaby, her singing, her moaning; on sands,
On shingle, on breakwater, and on rock;
By sunlight, starlight, moonlight, darkness:
I must always be remembering the sea.

Go down to the sea upon this random day
By metalled road, by sandway, by rockpath,
And come to her. Upon the polished jetsam,
Shell and stone and weed and saltfruit
Torn from the underwater continents, cast
Your garments and despondencies; re-enter
Her embracing womb: a return, a completion.
I must always be remembering the sea.

Life came from the sea, and once a goddess arose
Fullgrown from the saltdeep; love
Flows from the sea, a flood] and the food
Of islanders is reaped from the sea's harvest.
And not only life and sustenance; visions, too,
Are born of the sea; the patterning of her rhythm
Finds echoes within the musing mind.
I must always be remembering the sea.

Symbol of fruitfulness, symbol of barrenness,
Mother and destroyer, the calm and the storm
Life and desire and dreams and death
Are born of the sea; this swarming land
Her creation, her signature set upon the salt ooze
To blossom into life; and the red hibiscus
And the red roofs burn more brightly against her blue.
I must always be remembering the sea.


Frank A. Collymore

Out of the silence
Music strays
Winding softly
Down the ways,
The ways that wander,
The ways that creep
Down the curled
Stairway of sleep;
The twining ways
That turn and twist
With burnished gold
And amethyst.
Amber and violet,
Viol and lute,
Oboe, emerald,
Oldrose, flute
Mingle, and
The distant drum
Throbbing its deep
The convoluted
Archway teems
With all the protean
Stuff of dreams:
Music and memory
And the light
That shines behind
The veil of night
Darkness and light,
Silence and sound,
With deep peace
Are woven round:
Winding softly
Down the ways
Into silence
Music strays.


Frank A. Collymore

The days are very lovely now,
All's wrapped in tender haze;
A group of upstart little clouds
Speed on their lonely ways
Across a sky where bigger ones
Too gross and wise to run
Gently conspire to shield and soothe
A not unfriendly sun,
And sometimes shed a little of
Their moisture just in fun.
Shadow and light are interfused,
The white roads doff their glare,
That eyes once blinded by it now
May travel everywhere,
From gravelled path to far-off hill,
And, rested, feast again
Upon the strange midday twilight
Paving the sleepy lane.
Although the mills no longer spin,
The winds remembering
That little boys must fly their kites
Haste with rich offering,
And tree and bush and shrubbery
Clad in their best array
Sway to this choreography;
An evergreen ballet
That one may gaze upon throughout
The livelong lazy day.
Hazy days, dear days!
Each passing moment seems
Wrought from the cloudy pageantry
Of childhood's idle dreams,
When elves and gnomes were sometimes seen
Peering from hidden lair,
And from the bougainvillea hedge
A princess would appear
Wrapped in a dusky cloak of green
With flowers in her hair.


Frank A. Collymore
Darkness broods on earth and air
Spilling shadows everywhere
Love lies dreaming Love is near
Lay your head to sleep
The crooked shadows bound and leap
Headlong through the looking-glass
Into nothingness they pass
Lay your head to sleep
Light will break in other guise
Colour blossom beneath skies
Where lamb with tawnv lion lies
Lay your head to sleep
Yesterday and distant Now
Slowly through the night will creep
All their harvest yours to reap
Lay your head to sleep
All the nightlong loveliness
Yours my darling to possess
And your sleeping eyelids bless
Lay your head to sleep

Frank A. Collymore

By the dip of the sky, runaway water under the stars,
The ship's prow drips with the kiss of the wave, and
The sails' saga is told in slow syllables as we plunge onward
Towards the shore of the horizon where the clouds are wrapped
About a shadow. The helmsman's face, old as stone,
Is etched upon the darkness by the cigarette's glow, his cap
Pulled low about his ears. Voyaging is slow,
And mists spiral through the waiting mind; the night is long.
And the sails' song interminable; moments glide
From darkness into darkness. Fugue of forgetting,
While stars rush silently in swooping curves, and the night
Is hooped around the sea's endlessness. The cigarette stub
Shrinks into nothingness, the hub of thought recedes,
And tattered shreds are scattered upon the silent deck
Lost among unfamiliar shadows. Wan as forgotten dawns
The lantern in the binnacle. Where the huddled hatch
Catches the threading light, thought's snails leave slimy tracks
As meaningless as the newsprint of a dream. There is
No meaning here but the song of the sails, no end
To wandering. And across the waters strides the wind
To lay its reckless head upon the bosom of the night.


A. N. Forde

There is a bee
this morning
feeding on the pollen
of my breast
as the sun
with professional touch
brings colour to the limbs
a warm flood to the warm blood.

Pain is
in the clenched heart:
for this day is gay
and warm with music-weather
and air-rhyme.

There is a heat
in my temples
and in the stream
of mad pounding
my pulse leaps
with its message
to the waiting lips.

The limbs take
power and triumph
from the beating hands
and the bands
of trivial maids
tie their modesty in a fling.

No more here
the pull of gravity
but the soul steeped
in the stimulant
of a tune.

And after all
the wine and wandering
through hectic streets
and sun
night comes
and the moon sheds
grains of silver
from the sheaves
in the clouds.


And on the seashore
the artistic waves
ply their brushwork
on the sands
and memory nods
to wake on the shoulder
of Ash Wednesday.

A. N. Forde

Time was
you tossed in a delirium
of whispers near the roadside:
now your last whisper
is a treasury of lost sound

Months ago
you were a handful
of green ribbons teasing the wind:
now dead strips tell
where the colour and the sparkle go.

In the cycle

of things you will submit
to the tyranny of shining teeth
and the remorseless murmur of the mill
and all your once-green pride will not console a bit.

Heaped up
in your pyre ready for
the yearly sacrifices to power
you lie robbed of the majesty
of your plotted earth
bared of the eagerness of vour dream.


A. N. Forde
Scrawling a signature across
The map of the sky you fly
With the grace
Of a warm memory
Touched with the scalpel of time past.

In the mosaic of the clouds
At sunset you fold proud
Wings to lie
Upon the palpitation of the waves
Leaving behind a tender trace
Of your lightness on the sand
For the careless sea to trod
On and erase.

Or in powered dives
With taut limpness down
The shafts of air your limbs
Sink in a sharp plunge
To the rocky ground.
Or rising from the catacombs
In an equipoise of wonderful
Propulsion your arms
Climb the tiers of the air
With an upward roll.

Your nest left huddled
In the ear of a rock
Mid the blast and wrack
Of fretful billows
Clamouring to be heard
You ride into the silence of the sky.

And far below you
As you soar
I envy your freedom
From the tug of time
Your glory
In the welfare of the air.


Martin Gray

Obstinate scribblers, they twist and cross
Their frail circumference, a distant force
Of gladiators seeking salt and quanta
Wingless locusts, waves of constant hunger,
They have no carnal wish within their sheen
But titillations of antennae
Guiding their Rivers over grass and bark.

Their solar asterisks of energy
Roam solitary, a series of ends
Designed into a single smooth machine,
Nouns shuffled around by a verb
And folded in endless lavers as a brain
How many decimals
Would bring their sum to one?

These pygmies scurrying electrons
Turn as hard rain down fissures of the earth
To work into each crevice so that everything
Is seen. They tumble into numbers.
Everywhere for them is an arena
For trials of strength, and if they had
A mind and method all else would be death.

The dry torrent continues day and night
To drain down vortices. No part escapes
Inspection and comparison,
A primal impetus to cover surface.
Yet with their harsh indifference
They have the quality of art -
Lacking only the selection.


Martin Gray

Within an angry Ring
Silent lions turn
On supple paces

And icing-sugar bears
Innocent of snows
Look out upon the faces.

The muted animals
In their steel jungle
Arc dazed by the applause

Of those other thousands
Whose faces open
As they clap their paws.

Wilson Harris

Over the mountains and over the sea
runs a black horse, his hoof
Pounds the mountains and unsettles the sea.
His hoof grounds the mountains
Like the bones of the sea.
Like Death runs so swiftly, his black limbs remember
my very vain breath and my boast in the stars.
I mount him and I hold him
with the sun for a saddle and a bit made of stars.
I mount him and I hold him
with my breath on the bridle and my boast in the stars.
1 mount and I hold him
with my breath turning silver like a bridle of stars.
Far up on the mountains and deep down in the sea
I ride my black horse up and down and far.
My breath now deserts me,
I spit saliva and stars, I stop breathing the gore and mud
I grow breathless, ride faster and ride far. My ultimate horse of
darkness leaves earth's doors ajar.
I am kneaded into a star.


I am kneaded in a cave of darkness
where Death's hoof ploughed a scar.
I am kneaded on the mountains near heaven
where Death's hoof cut a scar

like a grave for a man and a mortal
the mud and spit of stars. The mud and spit of stars are
in the mixing

and in the kneading
Of every mortal being
Who rides the black horse far.

Wilson Harris
(Ulysses to Calypso)

Muffling time and muffled by time
ironed out to surrender the light or like a star
is the deed bed of the sea like sunshine
crushed to yield blood in darkness. This night of ocean
is its own star of memory, waving gently
the vast water reflects an eerie life and solitude
majestic, strange, an experience of hollowness and yet
of solid mass like substance. .The minstrel balance of fins
is feet of dancers, whose poise or quality
is the web of destiny, the organ of reunion
and separation. Every inclination to crawl or creep
upon immensity is nameless. Yet it is sometimes called Birth,
it is sometimes called Death. It is like a stone that melts
into flesh, it is like a colour mysterious in half-light,
equally solid as melting, internally shaded, externally bright.

It appears black, it appears white, merman or mermaid, deeper
than primitive desire in life, it has no footing, it has no ledge.
but in appearance like doom
in a cold spray it sometimes rests or is blown over the range of the
immortal deep.


Immortality is part of its nature, the stone of fire
which is resting and yet never rests like the sea.
The whirling chasms of sensation are fixed
like pyramids of immobility, a mindless fixity
in every instant of time. Only the immortal fluid
of stone as star
can turn a succession of waves into light (This is the prayer
of earthly love
to move the stone of the sea
for Glory and its invaluable human spouse, a mortal
being, like Penelope)

Wilson Harris
(epilogue to the senses: the heart)

Bold outlines are drawn to encompass
the history of the world: crude but naked emphasis
rests on each figure of the past
wherein the golden sunlight burns raw and unsophisticated,
Fires of brightness are sheltered
to burn the fallen limbs of men: the green
spirit of leaves like smoke
rises to mark the barrow of earth
and dwindles to perfection. The stars
arc sparks
in space and time, the fury of fire
that blackens the limbs of each god who falls:
spendthrift creation. The stable dew-drop is flame.
The sun burnishes each star in preparation for every deserted lane.
Time lies uneasy between the paintless houses
weather-beaten and dark.
The Negro once klaned on his spade
breathing the smoke of his labour,
the arch of his body banked to shelter or tame
his slow burning heart
like a glittering diamond:
or else like charcoal to grain
the world, lines of a passionate intention.


Wilson Harrix

The working muses nourish Hector
hero of time: like small roots that move
greener leaves to fathom the earth.
This is the controversial tree of time
beneath whose warring branches
the sparks of history fall. So eternity to season, it is converted into
an exotic roof for love, the barbaric conflict of man.

So he must die first to be free.
Solid or uprooted in pain, his bright limbs
must yield their glorious intentions to the secret
root of the heart. And musing waters dart
like arrows of memory over him, a visionary: smarting tears
of the salty earth.

The everchanging branches of the world, the green
loves and the beautiful dark veins in time
must fall to lightning and be calm in broken compassion:

but the wind moves outermost and hopeful
auguries: the strange opposition of a flower on a branch to its dark
wooden companion. On the gravel and the dry earth
each dry leaf is powder under the wheels
of war. But each brown root has protection
from the spike of flame. Each branch
tunnels to meet a well or inscrutable

shows the mortality of man
broken into scales that heal the strife of god.

The petals of space return
in a gnarled persistence like time.

To claim eternity as its own
time is this tree of the past
still grows from a mortal bosom.

So now when Hector dies, the creation of a hero
kills a father, a husband and all. What frail succession continues!


Why must he fall
when still a green branch

why shoulder a war with the sulky sky of god

To be truly mortal--
must Hector
to the immortals climb?

or to be truly fateful
to Hades lean before time
and be dusty and forgetful?

What glory has the almighty promised him?

only this--
capricious lightning of victory
while Achilles rests beside the ancient sea
while death waits in the guise of immortality.

Far off the clouds are tinged with pink and purple
the fire and darkness, the passion and the gloom of storm
the unearthly sense of valour subdued: but the caves of death
wait for the mortal
who turns in brightness to the immortal
blandishments of fame or fire!
the wild contest and the atrocious end
must dapple the world with flame and extinction
like still shadows moving in the memories of god.
Save for this tree that continues out of the breast of love,
shelter for what is beleaguered, the struggle that lives and shines!

So Hector knows the trunk of man, the branches of heroes and gods
foreshadowing the labour of all.

Loses his spear and groans to leave his love:
so is he pursued by a contradiction. The fine blades of grass
point their green arrows to his heart: the sun marches
to meet his young night,
his red flowers burning like inexorable stars: his roots serve
to change illusion and forsake
blossoming coals of immortal imperfection.


Cecil Herb ert

Night's end and bird song. Bright birds,
All through the morn from the child's waking hour,
From perches high in, with cascades of chords,
Drenched the leafy dew-starred hair of trees.
When the gradual, vivid dawn was done
The filigree of dew drops disappeared,
Bird song of the past was blurred
And fumbling the hairless trees
Came time's haze of dust-laden years
Which makes future and past so vague;
And also came the fear that stunned
The fear that I'd grown into stone.
But to-day, bright thoughts have scoured the brain
And I try for the happy words
To express my hope, large as the sun,
That violent as the poui
Which explodes into flowers when earth is cast iron
I shall rend my veil of fears
And burst into song with the radiant tongue
Of the birds, in the trees, in the dawn.

Cecil Herbert

For Jo:
Waves slithering over brown-skinned rock,
Hissing of waves as they mount the rocks-
By a pool appropriate with coral,
Caught in a column of sunlight I see you
A girl, and vet more goddess than girl,
Brittle in beauty and bright as coral,
And words rage in my heart's darkness.
Midst the sibilant statements of the waves
A voice calling back from the future
Skewers the heart on a shaft of love,
The perennial pain no prayer assuages-
The sunlight fades, the vision perishes,
All is darkness.


But that was another day.
Hillside studded with rocks and bramble,
And I have come into these high hills today
For I would carve you a song.
I am out of the sound of the sea,
I have come into these bird-infested hills
For today is a day of prayer and praise
And I would carve you a song
More lasting than marble, more beautiful
Turning in pain as the waves tormented her?
Goddess or girl whichever you are, hear me:
But rock-coloured girl first tell me
Was it you that I saw? Was it you?
Was yours the bird-shaped voice that called me?
Or was it some goddess trapped in the coral
Confined in rock for an ancient wrong

From high on this heavenward hill
I gaze on the bay below me
Where waves, instinct with violence,
Crawl towards the woman-bearing rocks,
And wishing to thank you (my girl, my goddess,
Who afraid of the smart of her aching blood
Still brings me back my singing voice)
From the crest of my love I shape this prayer:

Though a poet approach her rayed in love,
His fond, fond words, through her foliage of flesh
Through her branching veins, swiftly winging,
May her arms never know the torment
Of encircling this obdurate lover
For his grief is as old as Adam and Eve,
And his heart is ringed round with raging words.
Than any goddess caught in alabaster.

If she, embayed in his arms,
Turn in pain and cry for the moon,
Though her crime be as ancient as woman,
O let her not know confinement in rock
For the sea is within us, is intractable;
Rages in a twitch of the heart and traps us
With promises of a more auspicious season:


And all men know that the too hot heart
Shall ache into stone ere this ancient rock
Chafes into blood once more.
The prayer ends,
The singing perishes, vision and sunlight
Are shattered by the raging dark.

Cecil Herbert

In far days in happy shires
In the perfumes that all day creep
From virgin moulds, in the fires
Of a sullen but tolerant sun, deep,
Our roots drilled deep and found
In caverns underground
Sweet water
Rich as the laughter
That slept in Carib eyes before fierce slaughter.

Through the soft air falling,
Swifter than the sleek hawk dives
On the dove, on silent wing
Pilfered their caciques lives
At our feet in our shade
Where once they had played
In childhood
Children of the sun
Who prayed to the sun to avenge their blood.

Hostile grew the sun and pitiless
Spear sword arrow of light grew fiery
And in the blindness of their bitterness
Bored bird and beast and tree;
Under the whip of savage winds
And intricate with wounds
Necrotic flesh
Fell fold by fold from flanks
That never before had known the driver's lash.


Old, we are old before our prime
(Springs of laughter ran dry
And hearts atrophied) and in our time
Have heard lips lift their cry
To the stone-deaf skies, have seen
How the hawk has been
Stripped of pride
In necessary propitiation;
In vale on hill where slave and cacique died

Have seen from the blood arise
IThe cactus, live columbarium
Of the winged tears of indignant eves,
And from its flowers come
Dim odours, sweetening the air
Through the desolate years
And bringing barren hearts
Auguries of new days, new faith, bright singing.


K. E. Ingram
There were those who were walking mountain paths by night
In search of stars

And those who strayed amidst the flowers
That held the glowing sunset caved within their open lips
Many by chance have met with sprig-eared goat kids on the
slippery rocks
And loved their wild glass eyes
And their catapult trips

But I, coming around the corner of dirty streets
Have met upon small negro boys
Little dirty chips
With stars in their eyes
And flowers between their lips.


K. E. Ingram

The hills are like great waves of music
But of a still and soundless music:
The hills are silences.
Dark silences on moonless nights
Silver silences on moon-nights:

The hills are pure silences
Seen from other silences.
The hills are the great silences
That follow when the clear ripples
Of bird-song and bird-flute
Have ringed away in that blue and greatest
of all silences.

K. E. Ingram

You little yellow cups of witchery
You little cups stained at the core with blood
Crimson with a mad joy
Crimson with a fertility
That will to-morrow burst forth
In a green shoot.
I see you laughing wildly
At my window in the morning
Holding up your cups of blood and
morning sunlight
An offering to the day
Day of fiesta and glorious gala
And still you revel in the offered wine
Till the drunk day
Shall purse your open lips
Into a wrinkled bud.

You wear auras of joyfulness
You wear auras of wild bliss
In your deep stains you say 'Kisses for sale
If you have full lips come and prevail.'


E. McG. Keane

My love, are you strong ?
I will bring my life to you like a bundle of washing;
And all they say is my soul
I will bring
Like washing to your sweet rivers.
And will you say this ?
Drink deeply
Sink deeply
Dream deeply of cleansing
In the rivers' bones ......

My love, are you strong?
I will bring my sins to you
On the breast of your rivers, like stones
I will bring my sins
Prayerful to be swept along and away
And will you say this?
Will you say,
Sigh sweetly
Die gently
Dream deeply of cleansing
In the rivers' bones


E. McG. Keane

ONCE the sea
Said to the wind
I am sad
Heed me
I am unwanted
Need me
I am blind
Lead me
And out of a pattern of tides islands became
(And out of the eater came forth meat)
Oh my islands
And out of a pattern of blood
Came forth we
Came forth we


Oh my islands
Will the sins of the sea
Find us out

You there
If you see Moses or Columbus
Tell him there is nothing here
That a person may not discover
In a glass of wine or the tint of a hair
Or the explosion of a little wave

(If you would commemorate anything....)

I talked once with one who was not dead
And he said
Why doesn't Chatoyer write home any longer
Out of a pattern of blood....

I walked with my lover near the cliff
In the clinging shadows
And she threw a flower out of the shadows
And we watched it settle on the silken sea
And she said

The sea grows nothing
The sea knows nothing to grow
The sea is sad
Is dry and unwanted

Once the water said
To the wind
I am unwanted
Need me
I am unplanted
Seed me
And out of the sweep of the wind's hands
Out of a pattern of tides
Came forth islands


Mountains remember our dawn
And rivers rumble of a time
Before Columbus
Before the bushed beards and red eyes
That spoke of a land long sea-days northward
And the little rippling efforts of memory
That make brows of our blue bays
Know with the wind
Tales of a ghost time's far telling

And time and her captains sailed west
Into a pattern of blood
By a pattern of tides possesed....

Go to, Drake
Go to, Penn
Venables, go to.
Rum and blood and the quake
Of a thousand broadsides

(If you would commemorate anything)

Oh Abercrombie rides the flood rides the flood
Into a pattern of tides
Tides and blood
And the sins of the sea
That may eventually....

This was the temptation:
That they who daring the lips of the ocean
Had found Canaan without benefit of light
Or pillar of cloud
Should bring home the grape
And gorge without thanks

If you see Columbus or Cain
Or Philip of Spain


Tell him....
And this is the condemnation:
That they who gorged grape did not stop to consider
The shock of the vine, that they finding gold
Did not stop to consider the rock they had raped
That they making history did not stop to consider
The flesh they had undone....

I talked with the flower
That settled on the silken sea
And the flower said
I know the last brave cacique
Have known him head mountains and eyes tides
Have seen him ripples spreading
Out of tides
And out of a pattern of tides


And out of a pattern of blood
Oh my islands....

And out of a pattern of tides and blood


E. McG. Keane

You should have seen them
dancing the Calypso,-
the whirling
crashing Calypso!
Now with a whirl and a toss and a turn
and a tumbling;
Now with a slipping and a shouting and a sliding,
And then with a mock-slow
sinuous winding,
tortuous rhythm translated into body.
To see them is to see the wind
as ocean sees it,
To touch them
is to touch the ocean
horizon-like, ever and never.
To join them is to let the senses perish
or swelter in a hot coagulation
of joy and drunken stupor,
to lose all consciousness of having self or sinew-
retaining only
a vague, yet wildly burning
Sense of Rhythm.


Music is fire,
and rhythm is the smoke
that leaps from it,
wetting the eyes,
drugging the veins,
threading a delicate poison
in, through, between the rapid folds
of mind, like-in a grey noon-
beyond the mist, round a mass of brain-cloud-
a skein of lightning,-but hotter-
a web of warm pulsation-
Sensuous Calypso!

Look at their faces,
each a sweating mask,
a frozen crescendo of passion.
Look at their eyes,-
Can you read your way into a teardrop?-
There are mirrors of emotion fretting the quivering lids..
A smile snakes its way
round and round
their mouths,
loading the flesh with ripples,
ripples, ripples,
ripples everywhere; from the greasy chasms
on their foreheads
to the hairy palisades
drawn up about their eyes, protecting
prism beyond prism,
each gushing a spectrum of radiating madness.


Music is a demon,
and rhythm is the spell
that sits upon his eye
and looks
a happy frenzy into mortal bones....
Maddening Calypso!

Look at their hands-
clutching hands.
Look at their bodies,
Lurching closer......closer......
then dissolving, each-
spiral after spiral-
into each; and then
resolving themselves into a twain
lurching farther. .... farther ...
These are not men and women, entities
divorced, diverse, or free.

These are one rolling
weaving, winding,
sweating, shouting,
of a passion universal,
urged, quickened and controlled
by an insistent blast
Of wild resistless rhythm.

Music has form and colour,
Rhythm has force-
Music is a river,
men are the strengthless stones
swept on and on......


Music is a wave,
men are the bubbly foam
rising and falling through infinitudes of cadence.
Music is a call, men are the echo.
Music is a whip,
and men are slaves
groaning in a spasm of vibrant toil.
Dynamic Calypso!

They cannot stop,
These dancers, until it stops,
until it has expressed the final drop of awakened passion.
Men say the earth is a vital graveyard
of its own history,
that every fold of rock
with imprisoned residues of an exhausted age.
So is music....
so is the music of the Calypso-
centuries of warm compulsion
spinning a woof of fire-
screaming, wriggling, whirling, flexing fire-
around the hot commotion
of dancing feet;
welling up
in crazy crescendos
through crevices of maddening sound,-
pulsating aeons instantly unwombed,
charred passions, fossil emotions
cast up in
rhythmic spurts of undulating dance......
It will not stop,

They cannot stop.
you shall see them dancing
The Calypso.


George Lamming
By no other name are these
The imperturbable birds more beautiful,
No likelier image for the summer's curl
Of white light caught from the sea's
Arterial cells; or the moon's wry
Face carved on the curved aristocratic sky.

Sailing the solitude of their customary waters
Dark and dimpled, in the windy morning,
Instinct prompts a ritual of preening
The rude arrangement of their feathers,
And leaping with the leaping light of dawn
They crown the river with a white perfection.

Later the circus arrives
With its ready-made apparatus of pleasures,
Dogs and women and the dutiful masters
Of small boats swimming their lives
Through charted areas of water
And chuckled warnings of the wind's laughter.

The birds thoughtful, decorous, austere,
Retreat to a far side of the river,
Their eyes held in a puzzled stare
Measure their recently arrived spectator.
Some cluster to a deep deliberation
Or ponder in amazement their own reflection.

Leisurely the evening ambles,
Through the stained air, on torn leaves,
Over the lame, dry grasses,
Sadly, silently the late light falls,
And the waving curl of water dies
Where the winged white quietude at anchor lies.

Now blank desertion fills the senses,
Over the howling city
Louder than the cry of industry,
The moon sheds a contagion of madness,
And water fills the eves of the visitor
Entering the legend of this historic river.


George Lamming

Today I would remember you whom birth brought no lucky dip
From which to pluck a permanent privilege,
And pain pushed prematurely into prose.
The photograph that recreates a child whose glance
Cast on the rescuing rock reads tyranny
His body bare to the bellowing wind
Has proved your former existence,
So when the season of awareness came
Passion made politics a serious game
And poverty your partner. How well I understood
The intolerant gesture, the juvenile lust to murder
An evil that had forged your life.

My birth records a similar story:
The freezing bastardy, the huddled tenantry,
Where children carry parents' pains like a uniform
Articulate only in their loyalty to life,
The individual desire or despair mocking most faithfully
Barometers that measure another's will
And happiness as time indeed has shown
Absolved by the evil, intelligent question:
Was that piece of land a paying concern?

Those who start life without a beginning
Must always recall their crumbling foundations,
Rushing past affliction of the womb's unfortunate opening,
Reconsider now and again their earliest ambitions,
Or poised somewhere between loss and a possible arrival
Question their precarious present portion
What new fevers arise to reverse the crawl
Our islands made towards their spiritual extinction?
Do you still patrol the city's unsavoury sites
Probing the prostitutes' hearts? Setting your intelligence
An exercise in pity as the warm nights
Drift their human flotsam before your questioning glance?

Nothing is changed in the news that reaches me here:
Papers continue to print the impossible, and rumours telegraph
Whatever falls within the sense' gauge,
Young poets are decorated with foreign approval
For precocious statements in a borrowed language,
Fashionable women whom comfort couldn't bless with sense
Still flock to applaud lectures by men
Who've a soft spot for the sound of their voices,
Corruption is keen: time throbs
With the ache of the proud and the sensitive like you


Who angrily wade through the vacuum
Forever afloat with oily seas,
While politicians posing incredible paunches
Parading their magical and primitive power
Fit the incompetent into jobs

Life is similar in (what some call) the Mother Country
Where our people wear professions like a hat
That cannot prove what the head contains,
Success knows what grimace to assume,
Mediocrity is informed by a bright sense of bluff,
And Democracy a convenient attitude for many.
Students whom the huge city has shorn of glamour
Divorced from their status by a defect of colour
Find consolation in Saturday nights
With eloquent white whores that dance;
Or at nightfall over their new habit of tea
Argue with an elephant's lack of intelligence
Our culture must be spelt with a West Indian C.

We must suffer in patience whom life received
On islands cramped with disease no economy can cure,
Go with or without our lovers to the quiet shore
Where the reticent water weaves its pattern
And crabs crawl with a peculiar contemplation of the land,
Move through the multitude's monotonous cry
For freedom and politics at the price of blood,
Yet live every moment in the soul's devouring flame,
Until we fold with the folding earth,
Erect our final farewell in tree or cloud,
Hoping (if possible) for a people's new birth.

So you who care little for festival,
The seasonal sports, the carnival
Of barren souls in the February noon,
Preferring to inhabit your room, hoping to lean
On some durable solace in pages that justify
Your honest but innocent worship of the Russian regime
May not question why your exiled friend,
Seldom at ease in the habits of his time,
Never understanding why people pretend
To manufacture good wishes at certain times of the year,
Should yet try sincerely to offer you
A gift in words on your birthday.



O I have seen the Caribbean..
In all her wild
And raging forms
And I have seen her
When her soul was quiet
And her ways were gentle
And her manner
Serenely calm
Like a madonna
I have seen her
Resembling a maiden
Her body lying
With a rainbow
Across her gentle breasts
For sheer adornment
A nymph
I have seen her too
Not unlike an Amazon
Fighting hard
Against perilous winds
With bosom heaving
And voice roaring
And mouth white
With froth
A lovely tigress
I have seen her
At the break of dawn
And heard
Her quiet ripplings
Along pebbled shores
And heard
The waking birds
The accompaniment
Like musicians

Ferdinand Levy


I have seen the tropic sun
All crystal in colour
Creep noiselessly
Out of her womb
And steal
To a majestic height
In the blue of the heavens
And I have seen
That tropic sun
Sink to her feet
And die
A glowing ball.
Una Marson
You ask me just to be a little wise,
To half subdue the ardour in my eyes,
To find some unseen power that can restrain
The heated blood that rushes to my brain.
Ask then the wild wind on its furious course
To half subdue its mighty unspent force
And ask the troubled sea that she no more
Will dash her waves against the placid shore.
Ask of the fire that blazes ever higher
Of its consuming appetite to tire,
And ask the sun that moves towards the west
To stave its course, subdue its heat and rest:
Ask on, your chiding is so sweet to me
I have no wish to ask for clemency.
Una Marson
Listen, little wild violet,
Your heart beats wildly as mine,
When you hear the feet of your lover
Stop by the Celandinc.
My lover he halts by the wayside,
He works far away from the streams,
And has no time for my music
Or the magic of my dreams.
I'll bide with you, sweet violet,
And we'll banish our loves for aye,
For why should we dream of lovers
Who come not when it is May.


Una Marson

Long had I thought
Of Death
And then they told me
You were dead.

I had seen him
Sitting in the ante-room
Eager to be summoned,
So when I heard
You had received him
I was silent.

I went to see you
Lying in death's embrace.
I was afraid -
I thought the sight
Would tear my heart
To pieces,
And my anger would rise
Against death the intruder.

But when I looked
Into your lovely face
.And saw the sweet peace
That his kiss
Had implanted,
I could not weep,
And I could not be angry

Ah, sweet is death,
And kindly,
To those who suffer
Unbearable agony:
Sweet was death's kiss
Upon your lips -
Beloved one
To whom
He gave His Peace.


Hilda McDonald

Like giant brooms the palm heads sweep
The star-dust from the dreaming skies,
As through half-opened gates of sleep
Bird carols of the morning rise.

Where sea meets heaven in misty blue,
The dawn fires leap through rosy spray,
And armed outriders of the morn
Flash burnished spears in bright array.

Westward their wind-whipped coursers sweep,
Hailing the shore to greet the day,
Then turn and toss their flying waves
In rippling silver o'er the bay.

Their trumpets sound from reef to reef,
Their gold-red pennons flaunt the skies
As mailed in silver, girt with jade
Dawn comes up with flaming eyes.


Hilda McDonald
Sunset had called in the colours
But not vet was it dark,
The pool lay a mirror of silver
Without spot or mark.

When out from the green mirrored mangroves
Stepped a wonder of white
A great heron wandering homeward,
Before it was night.

The pool held the moon and the heron,
And the first white star,
In a beauty beyond all imagining
As I watched from afar.

And my heart sang aloud to its Maker
In thanks and delight,
Who gave me that moment of beauty,
Before it was night.


Basil McFarlane

Music a kind of sleep
imposes on this weary flesh
wind beyond silence
speech of the God who ordered
trees flowering of dark earth
light, essence of darkness

Lucifer massed
in arrogant disorder all about
pale quiet strength of stellar presence
hears in a wonderful dread
music a calm
persistent tread
above the wild torment of nameless waters.

Basil McFarlane

And shall a man
mortal though the mind
covets eternity seek only
this seek only to endure
whether failings of breath and bone
corruption of flesh and faith?

Too thin too thin the wind
of consolation here
the outer edge of prayer
the unexorcised inexorcisable knife
selfknowledge is closer to distant stars
whose stare is lonely and unexplained
solemn and keen and unwinking like regret

than to old Earth estranged now
a pillow of cold stone.


J. E. Clare McFarlane
(From Daphne)

Sweet are the nights of May, the balmy nights
When crescent moons slant southward, and the stars
Glimmer from violet skies, and jasmine blooms
Scatter their fragrance over sleeping fields.
Sweetest to love, and youth's first taste of love,
The gold of moon-dreams and the silver sheen
Of dew-wet forest trees, and misty hills,
Dim and remote, like unexplored desires
That rise in distant regions of the soul.

Sweet are the dawns of May, dew-moist and borne
Upon the odorous winds that nightly sleep
In flowery coverts, and at morn spread wide
Their wings before the day; where snowy mists,
From the lone peak diverging, nestle down,
Like curtains parted at the touch of Love,
To valleys deep below; and these to them
Pure joy and wonder were, whether beneath
The star-gemmed mantle of the night they roamed,
Or, standing on some wooded slope, beheld
The liquid sphere float free and pour its flood
Upon Cinchona's height.

J. E. Clare McFarlane
If e'er I tread the highways of the world,
'Twill be for thee, my country! for thy name
I am most zealous; unto thee I owe
All the imaginings of beauty sown
Deep in my soul; and unto thee I bring
What thou hast given. While on thy breast I lay
In helpless childhood I have felt thy breath,
Moist with the mountain-dew, and seen thy face
Aflush with Eden's earliest dawn; have heard
Thy whispers 'midst vast silences, when noon
Held breathless earth and sea.


And thou hast nursed me
From season unto season, year to year,
Till dawning consciousness in me revealed
The graces of thy form. Well I remember
The vague and subtle sense of joy which stole
Into my pulses as I gazed upon
Thy fields of flowering grasses, neathh the wind
Rising and falling, like a reedy pond
Half-blown to life; and well do I recall
Thy first sweet favour, my first love: a flower,
Star-like and tender, whose perfumed breath
Wafted my soul into the enchanted land
Of dreams and fairies.
Or thou would'st lead me
Through labyrinthine ways where murmuring flowed
The shadow-full waters of some lonely stream,
Dappled with golden glimmerings where the sun
Pierced with his prying eve the sanctuary
Hallowed by solitude.
Alone with thee,
And in such mood as each sequestered spot
Would lend, and with the gathered presence
Of years whose summers lay beneath my feet,
I heard thy wondrous story, saw thy tears,
Thy laughter 'midst thy tears I heard and saw;
And with entranced vision did behold
Phantom romances that at noon-tide dream
Upon thy hills, and in thy valleys sleep.

There is a world-old pain within thine eyes
E'en while thcv sparkle mirth; a shadowy trouble
That sits on thy fair brow; a spectral langour
That cleaves to thine immortal youth, and casts
A damp upon thy warmest impulse. Oft
In the still watches of the night I've heard
Warring against opposing shutters, oft
Thy sighs have come to me.


And I have sought,
Uneasy with thy hidden pain, the woods
On summer nights, to listen to the leaves
Whispering in solemn conclave, or to scan
Their black and golden tracery, images
And symbols of thine own mysterious fate,
Dark with forebodings, golden with lure
And promise of thy matchless loveliness;
And baffled, I have lifted searching eyes
Unto thy mist-veiled mountains, where the peace
And majesty of heaven linger yet.
They loom against the sky-line; seem to yearn
Pulsating t'ward high heaven; are silent still,
Tense with an anguished waiting.
And now I sink
Vanquished, beneath the burden of thy grief,
And now a deathless impulse bears me on
To dare for thee, to spend myself for thee,
To take the rugged path, nor heed the pain,
To grapple with the thorns of sacrifice,
The sneers of cowards, the malice of the proud,
If I might win thee to a nobler self,
And see thee stand triumphant on the heights,
Steadfast like thine own mountain-range and flushed
With the bright splendour of a new-born day.
O bless me now, my mother, bless me nowl
And be the music of thy thousand streams
In me a song of triumph! The fleet winds
That haunt thy shadowy passes be the wings
That shall upbear my fancy; let it glow
Like thine own ardent noonday, and resound
With the o'erpowering harmony that swells
From thine encircling seas.
And that strange peace
Be mine, that broods above thy mist-filled vales
At twilight, and upon thy purple hills;
Not silence, but a hushed expectancy,
A brimming joy that greets night unafraid,
When life stands tiptoe on the brink of time
And waits with fluttering pulses for the last
Sweet benediction, and the touch of hands;
And hope aspires toward the evening star,


E. M. Roach

Seven cedars break the Trades
From the thin gables of my house:
I know the green demonic rage
When gales are trapped in their thick foliage
But weathers turn, the drought returns,
The great sun burns the green to ochre
Dry racking winds knock the boughs bare
Till they are tragic stands of sticks
Pitiful in pitiless noons
But know dusk's bounty and the moon's

Beyond the cedars there are fields
Where one man sweated out his days
Wearying his stubborn bone.
He'd bought thick woodland for his own,
Set his axe of hope upon it
With his rugged bones of courage
And left his sons an heritage.
This heavy drudgery for a man
But plants his spirit in the earth
That blooms no fragrance of his worth.

So I write his epitaph
In his own blood of hove and faith:
"His life was simple peasant bread,
"He wrote his memoirs in his head,
"His heavy labour drained his face,
"He felt to his arthritic bone
"Both our weathers of the sun.
"God was his good friend on his fields
"In changing skies and wind and rain;
"He harvested his faith in grain".

T hough his heavy days are done
He is present in the fields
In natural holy images.
He's girth and growth of all his trees,
lie's on these tracks his goings made


In his slow to and fro in boots
As earthy as his nurtured roots.
To every furrow of the land,
To every shaken grace of grass
He is the spirit of the place.

An un-named, unknown slavcman's son;
Paysan, paisano; of all common
Men time-long in fields world over
In the cotton, corn and clover
Who are not told, but tell their breed
Through history's book, as passive, as
Unkillable as common grass;
Whose temperate and patient soul
The heavy loam of human earth
Feeds woods of wisdom, art and faith.

E. M. Roach

It is not long, not many days are left
Of the dead sun, nights of the crumbled moon;
Nor far to go; not all your roads of growth,
Love, grief, labour of birth and bone
And the slow slope from the blood's noon
Are shorter than this last.

And it is nothing. Only the lusty heroes
And those whose summer's sweet with lust
And wine and roses fear. The children do not;
Theirs is young Adam's innocence.
The old do not; they welcome the earth's suction
And the bone's extinction into rock.

The image of your beauty growing green,
Your bone's adolescence I could not know,
Come of your middle years, your July loins.
I found you strong and tough as guava scrub,
Hoeing the growing, reaping the ripe corn;
Kneading and thumping the thick dough for bread.


And now you're bowed, bent over to the ground;
An old gnarled tree, all her bows drooped
Upon the cross of death, you crawl up
Your broken stairs like Golgotha, and dead bones
Clutch at your dying bones........

I do not mourn, but all my love
Praise life's revival through the eternal year.
I see death broken at each seed's rebirth.
My poems labour from your blood
As all my mind burns on our peasant stock
That cannot be consumed till time is killed.

Oh, time's run past the time your hands made bread
To this decrepitude; but in the stream
Of time I watch the stone, the image
Of my mother making bread my boyhood long,
Mossed by the crusty memories of bread.
O may my art grow whole as her hands' craft.

E. M. Roach

Pray that the poem come out of the dark
Like clear spring water jetting from a rock,
Like blossom crowning the green blossomer,
And go with the white pride of cumuli,
And sing like light dawn's silver villanelle;
Pray for the phrases of the wheeling Trades.

Praise out of heart her whole and hybrid beauty
Now that her bone stands up among upstanding
Beauty of boughs blossoming flame and flames
Leaping and falling in fields, on hearths, in hearts
'render and kind in their first uttering love;
Praise her great rose among the season's roses.


A viking roving from his temperate island
Greeted our islands where the intemperate sun
Hurled darts of torrid light against his eyes,
Kindled wild torrid passion in his heart
For dark desire whirling through her drums:
She is their seed, the passion and the dark.

She's not what you have seen that Doric stone,
Those flanks and breasts amazing gods and men;
That form was cut for a coarse artisan
Who was half blind from soot in his black forge -
She is the dancer in dreams, the grace in the tides,
The flower of foam that gleamed at Paphos, goddess,
Goddess, eternally woman, legend and living.
Lancelot and Tristan drank a dolorous wine
From golden beakers through audacious days.
Abelard prayed his sin round a swan's neck.
And Goya's duchess blazed, and Rembrandt's wife;
And each new poet speaks new sonnets to her.

E. M. Roach

He plucked a burning stylus from the sun
And wrote her name across the endless skies
And wrote her name upon the waxing moon
And wrote her name among the thronging stars.

If the pale moon forgets he will remember,
Lovers remember though love's ghost sigh in the sun
Or whimper in despair in the large dark.

The seas are sorrows
And the seas accept the moon's dark tragedies.
The seas reflect the yearning of the stars.
His heart is weary as the endless seas.

His soul is wearier than the flowing wave,
O dark tide of no hope,
O blood of tears still sings the sun.
No cloud can blind the memory of the moon
Or blot the legend from the ageless stars.


E. M. Roach

I am the archipelago hope
Would mould into dominion; each hot green island
Buffetted, broken by the press of tides
And all the tales come mocking me
Out of the slave plantations where I grubbed
Yam and cane; where heat and hate sprawled down
Among the cane-my sister sired without
Love or law. In that gross bed was bred
The third estate of colour. And now
My language, history and my names are dead
And buried with my tribal soul. And now
I drown in the groundswell of poverty
No love will quell. I am the shanty town,
Banana, sugarcane and cotton man;
Economies are soldered with my sweat
Here, everywhere; in hate's dominion;
In Congo, Kenya, in free, unfree America.

I herd in my divided skin
Under a monomaniac sullen sun
Disnomia deep in artery and marrow.
I burn the tropic texture from my hair;
Marry the mongrel woman or the white;
Let my black spinster sisters tend the church,
Earn meagre wages, mate illegally,
Breed secret bastards, murder them in womb;
Their fate is written in unwritten law,
The vogue of colour hardened into custom
In the tradition of the slave plantation.
The cock, the totem of his craft, his luck,
The obeahman infects me to my heart
Although I wear my Jesus on my breast
And burn a holy candle for my saint.
I am a shaker and a shouter and a myal man;
My voodoo passion swings sweet chariots low.


My manhood died on the imperial wheels
That bound and ground too many generations;
From pain and terror and ignominy
I cower in the island of my skin,
The hot unhappy jungle of my spirit
Broken by my haunting foe my fear,
The jackal after centuries of subjection.
But now the intellect must outrun time
Out of my lost, through all man's future years,
Challenging Atalanta for my life,
To die or live a man in history,
My totem also on the human earth.
O drummers, fall to silence in my blood
You thrum against the moon; break up the rhetoric
Of these poems I must speak. O seas,
O Trades, drive wrath from destinations.

W. Adolphe Roberts

Pleasures, that I most enviously sense,
Pass in long ripples down her flanks and stir
The plume that is her tail. She deigns to purr
And take caresses. But her paws would tense
To flashing weapons at the least offence.
Humbly, I bend to stroke her silken fur,
I am content to be a slave to her.
I am enchanted by her insolence.

No one of all the women I have known
Has been so beautiful, or proud, or wise
As this angora with her amber eyes.
She makes her chosen cushion seem a throne,
And wears the same voluptuous, slow smile
She wore when she was worshipped by the Nile.


W. Adolphe Roberts

Cuba, dishevelled, naked to the waist,
Springs up erect from the dark earth and screams
Her joy in liberty. The metal gleams
Where her chains broke. Magnificent her haste
To charge into the battle and to taste
Revenge on the oppressor. Thus she seems.
But' she were powerless without the dreams
Of him who stands above, unsmiling, chaste,
Yes, over Cuba on her jubilant way

Broods the Apostle, Jose Julian Marti.
He shaped her course of glory, and the day
The guns first spoke he died to make her free.
That night a meteor flamed in splendid loss
Between the North Star and the Southern Cross.

W. Adolphe Roberts

Pan is not dead, but sleeping in the brake,
Hard by the blue of some AEgean shore.
Ah, flute to him, Beloved, he will wake.

Vine leaves have drifted o'er him flake by flake
And with dry laurel he is covered o'er.
Pan is not dead, but sleeping in the brake.

The music that his own cicadas make
Comes to him faintly, like forgotten lore,
Ah, flute to him, Beloved, he will wake.

Let not the enemies of Beauty take
Unction of Soul that he can rise no more.
Pan is not dead but sleeping in the brake,

Dreaming of one that for the goat god's sake
Shall pipe old tunes and worship as of yore.
Ah, flute to him, Beloved, he will wake.

So once again the Attic coast shall shake
With a cry greater than it heard before:
"Pan is not dead, but sleeping in the brake !"
Ah, flute to him, Beloved, he will wake.


A. J. Seymour

Music came thundering through the North-East Trades
Fuller than orchestras, and bent the masts
All through the nights and made them sorrow-laden

For green-graced islands that the ships had passed.
Each day broke on an ocean like a wheel
Bound to a hub of ships though driving fast

Deep to the westward under a sky now steel
Blue-gray and fatal, and now sapphire blue
Buttressed with golden evenings men could feel

All of their fears come mellow with the hue.
Behind them lay the far and wistful heights
Ferro and the Fortunate Islands and they knew

Back of these Spain, and widowed women, and lights
From lovely Palos glittering on the sea.
This ocean's only jewels on the sight

Were foreign stars that happened suddenly
Upon the dark, burnt fiercely through the hours
Then shrank to pale ghosts with dawn's light, eerie

Upon the lightening day, small silver flowers.
Then desolation came upon the crews
The emptiness men feel of crumbled towers,

Spent arrows falling, and the slackening will to do
Of men who wander to the world's edge and fail
In a doom of ocean with winds blowing true

And deep to westward in their office. Sails
Could never hope for Spain once more, they said,
Against these winds then, marvellous as a tale,

Small birds came singing at morning and they fled
When night approached.
Men in the ships took heart
Watching each feathered snatch of song and paid


Eagerest heed. But morning's eyelids parted
On miles of ocean meadow, golden weed
Spotted with berries and showing as if by art

Bright green leaves in the water. Then indeed
The crews made clamour against the Italian's will
Of holding course to India.


At night Columbus paced the poop alone.
Hard to hold men to a vision.
The faith fails
Sometimes even in the dreamer.

Signs, signs.
Today a little branch fill of dogroses
Drifted along the ocean's breathing bosom
Imagine roses in ocean
Roses at the edge of the world

The sea was calm like the river of Seville
A day ago and breeze as soft as April
Made fragrant wing to our weary caravels.

Vision, yes, vision.
I, an Italian
Holding three Spanish crews to an unknown land
After how many desert years.
A young man, poor, dreaming on Ptolemy
With his globe, and the maps of Marinus of Tyre,
And the opinion of Alfraganus the Arabian
That the world is not as large as people think

And living in the pages of Marco Polo
The Venetian feted once by the Great Khan.

Sometimes dreams harden and blaze into a vision
That leads the man to hostile courts and wars.

Fighting against the Moors but the vision blazing
In the warrior's head.


Answering bald-headed friars
Within the Salamanca Council Room.
What St. Augustine and the sages said

How Adam's sons never had crossed the ocean
And peopled the antipodes answering friars
With the vision burning.

Man must endure the crumbling powers, the crack
Of another's will but hold his vision fast,
Whip muscle and nerve to keep appointed pace
Drive wheel for westward to the couching sun.

Man must adventure to the Sun's declension
Translate his vision into a tower of fact
Despite the loosening limbs, the unstable powers
Failing about him.

Vision moulds clay into a hero despite the man
Cuts him to the brains and drives him hungry
To bring an inviolate star down to the earth
Vision may break a man to make a city,

Vision's an edge to civilisation, carving
Beauty from wilderness and charting seas.
Visionless, man falls back into the animal
With Nature striding in her ancient places.

And look, look-look, a light,-Quick, Pedro, come.

And so they came upon San Salvador.
When the dawn broke, the island floated ahead
Thick with the wind-swayed trees upon the shore.

Men shouted and cried for joy to see instead
Of waving waste of ocean, that tangled green,
The shrub and tree all dark with the bright red

Of foreign flowers on the leaves' glossy sheen.
The ships cast anchor with a triple crash
That startled seabirds, whirred them winging, lean


Neck stretched, to bank upon the trees. The splash
Died quickly into winking patches of foam
Widening out upon the swelling wash.

Men crowded boats. The Indians watched them come,
Riding upon the breaking waves to shore.
Until they feared and ran to find their homes

Deep in the woods. His mail Columbus wore,
The glittering cloaked in scarlet, and he sprang
Out on the sea-stained sand and kneeling, poured

His heart to God. On that beach dawn there hangs
A heavy caul of reverence, for kneeling there
The others felt vast choirs of angels sang

Within their hearts to hallow them many a year.
Rising up sworded, Columbus spoke again
And claimed San Salvador for the royal pair
Fernando and Queen Isabel of Spain.


He dreamed not that the ocean would bear ships
Heavy with slaves in the holds, to spill their seed
And fertilize new islands under whips

Of many nail-knotted thongs-dreamt not indeed
Massive steel eagles would keep an anxious watch
For strange and glittering fish where now was weed.

He knew not that a world beneath his touch
Springing to life would flower in cities and towns
Over two continents, nor guessed that such

A ferment of civilisation was set down
Would overshadow Europe whence he came.
He could not dream how on the nations' tongue


Discovery would marry with his name.
That to these simple Indians his ships brought doom
For cargo; that the world was not the same

Because his vision had driven him from home
And that as architect of a new age
The solid world would build upon his poem.


And so the day beginning.
In the vast Atlantic
The sun's eye blazes over the edge of ocean
And watches the islands in a great bow curving
From Florida down to the South American coast.

Behind these towers in a hollow of ocean
Quiet from the Trade Winds lies the Caribbean
With the long shadows on her breathing bosom
Thrown from the islands in the morning sun.

And as the wind comes up, millions of palm trees
Weave leaves in rhythm as the shaft of sunlight
Numbers the islands till it reaches Cuba
Leaps the last neck of water in its course.

A J. Seymour

Sun is a shapely fire turning in air
rcd by white springs
and earth's a powerless sun.

I have the sun today deep in my bones.
Sun's in my blood, light heaps beneath my skin.
Sun is a badge of power pouring in
A darkening star that rains its glory down.


The trees and I are cousins. Those tall trees
That tier their branches in the hollow sky
And, high up, hold small swaying hands of leaves
Up to divinity, their name for sun,
And sometimes mine. We're cousins.

Sheet light, white power comes falling through the air,
--All the light here is equal-vertical--
Plays magic with green leaves and, touching, wakes
The small sweet springs of breathing scent and bloom
That break out on the boughs.
And sun has made
Civilisation flower from a river's mud
With his gossamer rays of steel.

These regions wear sharp shadows from deep suns.

The sun gives back her earth its ancient right
The gift of violence.

Life here is ringed with the half of the sun's wheel
And limbs and passions grow in leaps of power
Suddenly flowing up to touch the arc.

Upon this energy kin to the sun
To learn the trick of discipline and slow skill,
Squaring in towns upon an empty map
Hitching rivers to great water wheels,
Taming the fire to domesticity.

Sun is a shapely fire floating in air
Watched by God's eve. The distance makes it cool
With the slow circling retinue of worlds
Hanging upon it.
Indifferently near
Move other stars with their attendant groups
Keeping and breaking pace in the afternoon
Till the enormous ballet music fades
And dies away.

Sun is a shapely fire
Turning in air
Sun's in my blood.


A J. Seymour

Gather into the mind
Over a hundred years of a people
Wearing a natural livery in the sun
And budding up in generations and dying
Upon a strip of South American coastland.

See a prostrate people
Straighten its knees and stand erect
And stare dark eyes against the sun.

Watch hidden power dome the brow
And lend a depth of vision to the eyes.

Gather into the mind
Over a hundred years of a people
Toiling against climate
Working against prejudice
Growing within an alien framework
Cramped, but stretching its limbs
And staring against the sun.


Sometimes the blood forgets the flowering trees,
Red with flambovants in the hard clear sun
And traces memories from hotter suns,
Other green-brilliant trees beneath a sky
That burns a deeper and more vital blue.

The blood goes back-

Coming across to land from Africa
The winds would close their mouths, the sea would smooth
And leave the little ships gasping, then the Sun
Would stand above and gaze right down the masts.

Children dying in dozens below the decks
The women drooping in clumps of flowers, the men
Standing about, with anger carved upon their foreheads.


A ferry of infamy from the heart of Africa
Roots torn and bleeding from their native soil,
A stain of race spreading across the ocean.

Then the new life of chains and stinging swamps
Whips flickering in the air in curling arabesques.


Gather into the mind
Over a hundred years of a people
Wearing a natural livery in the sun
And budding up in generations and dying
Upon a strip of South American coastland.

A. J. Seymour

Now Makonaima, the Great Spirit dwelt
In the huge mountain rock that throbbed and felt
The swift black waters of Potaro's race
Pause on the lip, commit themselves to space
And dive the half mile to the rocks beneath.
Black were the rocks with sharp and angry teeth
And on those rocks the eager waters died,
Lost their black body, and up the mountain side,
Above the gorge that seethed and foamed and hissed
Rose, resurrected into lovely mist.

'The rock He lived in towered a half mile high
So that it seemed a rival to the sky
And over it this living mist He drew
To curtain off Divinity from view.
He gave it too the privilege to choose
To take the glory of the rainbow's hues
To wear at morning, and for changed delight
The marvellous sunsets of the tropic night.
From day to day, behind this rainbowed screen,
The Father, the inscrutable, unseen,
Would ponder on His domain of the earth
And all the nations He had given birth.


And lie caused flowers to weave upon the ground
Their rich embroideries, and He set around
The village where each tribe worked all day long
A veritable tapestry of song
From birds that in the branches built their bowers
And spent within the shade quick musical hours.
So every wind blew peace and fortune down
From the sweet heavens, and everywhere was sung
A song of praise to the Great Spirit above
That fathered them in kindliness and love.
And every moon each tribe would come and float
Upon the stream a sacrificial boat
New-carved and painted, laden with fish and fruit
And watch it gain speed as it neared and shoot
Over the rock into the gorge below.

And as the waters, so the centuries flow
Until the savage Caribishi came
And put the Patamoona to the flame.
They came by night and took them in their sleep
Slaughtered the guards and drove away the sheep
Ravished the women, burnt their huts and fields,
Despite their warclubs and their wooden shields.
A few, the merest remnant, took to flight
And under shelter of the friendly night
Escaped from the pursuing torches sent
To slay them in the caches where they went.
These took the terrible tidings of the raid
To the far camp their restless kin had made
On the Potaro-that the feud was awake
And counsel what defences they could make.

Old Kaie was chief in counsel. He was wise
Over a hundred seasons had those eyes
Seen in their passage. Time had made them dim
But with its wisdom compensated him.
He knew the cures for all men's ills and fears
And he had words for women in their tears
To comfort them. He sat all day and talked
Unto the tribe, for painfully he walked
On legs like rotten trunks wherein chigoes
Had nested and made caves of all his toes,


Just now he counselled, "Since our arms are small
I and another to the mountain wall
Will go to question Makonaima's will
What He requires that we must fulfil
In sacrificial offerings. He is kind
His orders will chase fear out of our mind."
Then someone murmured "But can Kaie's feet stand
The troublesome journey through steep, rocky land?"
Flame sprang to Kaie's eyes, "Will you never learn,
From what the mind wills, body will not turn?"

So the next morning laboured up the slope
Kaie and the one other with their ropes
Strapped round their backs, their bags of magic art
With all the stuff that in their spells had part.
Kaie's feet oft staggered and the westering sun
Was swallowed up by night, the day was done
Before they came upon the slab of stone
That ends the path to the Great Spirit's home.

They stood while the vast starry night was full
Of falling water. Kaie felt his fellow pull
His arm. "Look there," "Yes, Makonaima's birds,
Thl e are Hlis messengers, they speak His words.
These small black cruiser birds, they fly in flocks
And feed on lana seed among the rocks."
And now the birds made swoopings round the pair
And chattLring, brushed Kaic's check and kissed his car.
Twice, thrice, they did this. Then with sudden flight
They wheeled and veered off through the seeing Night.

Then in a voice that swelled and sank and broke
With the great wealth of joy he felt, Kaie spoke
"Oh, great is Makonaima and the words
That He has spoken by message of His birds
I must go down the passage of the river


That I may sit before His face for ever
In His great house, the everlasting rock.
And He has promised that no harm, no shock
Shall bruise our people, for His watch and ward
Shall circle us and He shall be our guard.
I am accounted for a sacrifice
For all the tribe. You with your younger eyes
Shall see the offering that you may tell
How boldly Kaie clasped such a death, how well
He lost his life to save his threatened race
And shadow them with the eternal peace."

So in the morning, while the dim mist wreathed
And the fall thundered and the deep gorge seethed
That other sat at vantage by the wall
And scanned the river to the waterfall.
He saw the sun o'er-peep the world and throw
Tide after tide of golden ray and glow
Against the fall, flood full on its attire,
Its misty veil, and catch that mist afire.
Amazed, he stared. The opalescent light
Deepened and sank and changed.... Then in his sight
Below the point that Kaie had bid him mark
He saw Kaie in a sacrificial bark.

The frail boat bobbed and bucked within the grip
Of the live waters that hurried it to the lip
Over the abyss. Kaie then raised his tall
Huge bulk in the boat and towered over the fall,
A cruciform over the flaming mist.
Then with a force that nothing could resist
The boat rent all that misty veil in two,
Drawing a dark line down the rainbow hue.

But of Kaie's body never showed a trace,
He sat with Makonaima before His face.


Philip M. Sherlock

Long Mountain, rise,
Lift yon' shoulder, blot the moon.
Black the stars, hide the skies,
Long mountain, rise, lift you' shoulder high.

Black of skin and white of gown
Black of night and candle light
White against the black of trees
And altar white against the gloom,
Black of mountain high up there
Long Mountain, rise,
Lift you' shoulder, blot the moon,
Black the stars, black the sky.

Africa among the trees
Asia with her mysteries
Weaving white in flowing gown
Black Long Mountain looking down
Sees the shepherd and his flock
Dance and sing and wisdom mock,
Dance and sing and falls away
All the civilised today
Dance and sing and fears let loose;
Here the ancient gods that choose
Man for victim, man for hate
Man for sacrifice to fate
Hate and fear and madness black
Dance before the altar white
Comes the circle closer still
Shepherd weave your pattern old
Africa among the trees
Asia with her mysteries.

Black of night and white of gown
White of altar, black of trees
"Swing de circle wide again
Fall and cry me sister now
Let dc spirit come again
Fling away de flesh an' bone
Let de spirit have a home."


Grunting low and in the dark
White of gown and circling dance
Gone to-day and all control
Now the dead are in control
Power of the past returns
Africa among the trees
Asia with her mysteries.

Black the stars. hide the sky
Lift you' shoulder, blot the moon.
Long Mountain rise.

Philip M. Sherlock


Clear as the clear sun's light
So clear is the water's flight
From the black rocks down
To the waiting sand eager and brown,
Near Gordon Town.
And clear through the broad green leaves
And the shining spears of the water reeds
Through the tangled web of vine and root
Of tangled roots black and wet
With the shining water drops
As swift in its crystal flight the river
Leaves the rock for the sand and pebbles.

The rock and the light and the weaving stream,
Fluid and fixed and fervent.

Trumpets blow and the dead arise
Clanking bones and dead men's cries.
'Shiver the mountains huddled close
Beneath their shivering coats of green
Fluid now where once was rock
Melting now where once was stable
Liquid flows volcanic rock
And the brazen sky is mad with sound
And the sun and the moon and the stars appear


And the blazing sky and the melting hills
Uncover the roots of being that lay
Buried beneath the crust of clay.
Fire leaps headlong from the sky
And the rock and the light and the weaving stream
Join in the flaming dance that thrills
Through the earth and the firmament
For that which was fixed is fluid now
And the shaken are the shrivelled skies
Ablaze with the thousand lunatic eyes.

The black rocks twist and writhe and run
Red with the blood red light of the sun
The fire has claimed its ancient place
The fire which slept within the rock
The fire which slept within the earth
The fire which slept within the trees
The fire which slept within the clouds
The fire which slept within the skies
The fire that slept has come to birth
And seals with flame the shaking earth
And leaps with quivering flanks of flame
Through the woods and through the rocks
And leaps from cloud to crested cloud
And flames across the shrivelled sky.
Fire that flamed where Eden stood
A sword of flame.

Eden stands by Gordon Town
Cool with the green of leaves and cool
With gleaming water and dripping rock
And cool with the tangled black of roots
Where the river leaps from the tangled rocks to
the sand and pebbles.
Green and black and flash of silver.

And around and beneath and about the place
The flash of a flamir, sword
The fire holds still its ancient place.


Philip M. Sherlock

Across the sand I saw a black man stride
To fetch his fishing gear and broken things,
And silently that splendid body cried
Its proud descent from ancient chiefs and kings
Across the sand I saw him naked stride;
Sang his black body in the sun's white light
The velvet coolness of dark forests wide,
The blackness of the jungle's starless night.
He stood beside the old canoe which lay
Upon the beach; swept up within his arms
The broken nets and careless lounged away
Towards his wretched hut....
Nor knew how fiercely spoke his body then
Of ancient wealth and savage regal men.

Philip M. Sherlock
(Lines written after seeing a drawing by Edna Manley)
This is the ascension
This upward moving from the encaging flesh
Freedom and winged exaltation
Of that first moment when the spirit stirs
And moves with certitude
From the fair world till then so all-engaging.

At the resurrection
There is a breathing of life
Into the dead.
Earth shakes, tombs open
Coffins break asunder.
That which was lifeless comes to life,
At the word.

This is the greater wonder of the ascension
That the living, warm with home and love,
Feet firm on the solid earth
Set about not with dark corruption


But with the light of the stars, the splendour of the sun
and moon
With the ageless beauty of sea and land
That these living ones should in a moment
Aspire, aspire
From sight to perception, hearing to heeding, living to life
At the word.

Within the room there was light,
The drawing against the books,
Outside was the day ....

Who speaks the word
And whence the light?

See Lincoln at Gettysburg
Tight-fisted, hard headed
Country bred peasant's son....
Light bearer, light giver
His words fall upon the men and women who crowd
about the monument

The light shines round about them,
Hearts weary beneath the dragging burden of sorrow
Grow light at the word, crutches fall away from the maimed
Widows, mothers without sons
Men returned from the wars with bitter hopelessness
Fathers broken by nameless graves
Exultant move with calm certitude
Into this exaltation at the living word.

In time
Perchance one man speaks the word, the word
Not fashioned in the mind, the heart of one man.
Through him, through his responsive spirit
The generations speak, through him
The timeless agonies endless crucifixions
Enduring and sorrow and all
The unseen and hidden faithfulness
Of the sons of liberty
These made the words that Lincoln spoke
The words of the ascension at Gettysburg.


Within the room there was light
The drawing against the books,
Outside was the day.
Four men stripped to the waist mend the road
Black bodies gleam with sweat
Move the earth by a bank where cactus grows
And red hibiscus flames.
Dark bodies gleam in the light,
Green cactus red hibiscus
Their beauty needs the sun.
The sun's fierce heat first gives them birth
First stirs the seed within the earth
And drives the pulsing root to find
Food within the firm set rock,
Relentless drives the sap to flow
The tender leaf to thrust its way
Through clod and clinging clay.

But look how through the sunny land
How down along the mountain side
Red flows.
Spithodia and the flamboyant
Scarlet bougainvillea
Deep red of the shoe black
And at this season the red of the poinsettia,
Red flows down the mountainside,
Through the land and through its people's past
Through space, through time
Red flows
Sweeps away bitterness, sweeps away fear
Our father's blood, our land.

Turn again to the room,
Outside it is day
Within the splendour needs no sun
Those bodies do not bend but move upward
with calm certitude
Here is the upward looking the upward moving
Liberation exaltation
Of the ascension.


Philip M. Sherlock

A BEAUTY too of twisted trees
The harsh insistence of the wind
Writes lines of loveliness within
The being of this tortured trunk.
I know that some there are that spring
In effortless perfection still,
No beauty there of twisted trees
Of broken branch and tortured trunk
And knotted root that thrusts its way
Impatient of the clinging clay.

John who leapt in the womb has fled
Into the desert to waken the dead,
His naked body broken and torn
Knows nothing now of Bethlehem's peace,
And wild of mood and fierce of face
He strives alone in that lonely place.
Ezekiel too saw the dry bones live
The flames and smoke and conflict give
A lightning flash to the dead man's sight
And Moses smote the rock, no rock
In a weary cactus-land to mock
Hollow men stuffed with straw, but a rock
That freely pours from its riven side
Water for those who else had died....

And hangs on a twisted tree
A broken body for those who see,
All the world, for those who see
Hangs its hope on a twisted tree.
And the broken branch and the tortured trunk
Are the stubborn evidence of growth
And record proud of strife, of life.

A beauty too of twisted trees.


M. G. Smith
The wind breathes a mellow oboe in my ear
I from the seas of life
Have filled my cup with foam.
The tension of Time's waves has broken on
These cliffs
The menace is resolved in foam.
O beautiful
O beautiful
The cruelty.
Soon the suave night's surrender
And the mass music of the dark
Falls fragment into foam.
To apprehend the foam the waves declared
And drink the milk pure from the farm of Time.
Nebular and luminous
The stars the peaks achieve
Found foam of peaks and stars.
So bracket the stars with bubble
Fill baskets of white berries from the sea
All is a rich donation
The waves are lines of epic
The sea a deep quotation
The foam the complete poem.
I hear the sea's half-breath half-moan
Sweep in fugues through me
And the wind breathes an oboe in my ear.

M. G. Smith
Out of that mortal darkness flamed the cross.
It was not this the stranger prophesied
The star intended or the three old men
Kings of the east some said marking their state
Had by obeisance and rarest gifts
And worship in a strange unmusical tongue
Signified as the delivering light
When he as vet a babe beyond her teats
Knew nor cared nothing and no inkling shewed.
That was a strange beginning long ago
Too bright was promise in its glorious dawn
To bear a day as bitter as his birth
Broke open to her in the twisted light.


Now all was passing, world and light and time,
Into apocalypse with such a swirl
Of frenzied shapes and shrieks whose pain and joy
Burned indistinguishable one that horror bound
Her spirit numbly to it and compelled
The tribute of a pain surpassing all
But love as witness. And so summoning
The white inhuman ashes of her will
And with a countenance as cold and set
In preparation for the falling blow
As stone or metal she raised her head again.
Yet for her eves shut she saw more clear
Than at that hour sight was possible
Through tears and gathering darkness the white stark
And dreadful angularities his limbs
The human shape of pain had given but did not see his peace.
For in his eyes was such a peace it seemed
He was a thoughtless little boy again
And wandered heavenwards up dusty roads,
Or caught shrimps in the hill-streams with his mates,
Or went bird-nesting, or on a solemn start
Thanked God for Nazareth and his mother's home.
The white drawn mouth winced with its still-born cry.
iHer head tilted defiance of the hurt.
She stood and waited by the wooden cross
Beyond appeal or hope, a graven wound,
Carved with such care and pain that could she keep
Intact and motionless though all the world
Break and come toppling downwards on her head
And all the firmament her birth and death were one
And the door open at last to understand.
The meaning. Yes, the meaning. Where the throne
So clearly promised? Where the golden throng?
Because she had been but a peasant girl
More used to do without and toil than dream
Of joy or glory she had distrusted all
Even the stranger who had been the first
To mention this with mouth and eyes aflame
In that still dusk of autumn by the well.
So when he came she watched him narrowly.
'Where had she missed or tailed to understand?
that evening she appeared between two men
After he bad been three days lost with John
Whose death in prison had been such a blow
Unto them all, lost in Jerusalem
Had she not spoken kindly out of love
And thankfulness for his return unharmed?


But could love be enough? When she had asked
Perhaps a little plaintively that he admit
His truancy and negligence had been unkind
To her and a grave breach of faith, promising
To forgive and forget all, he had said,
"I was about my Heavenly Father's business."

Then first she knew, yet knew not what she knew
"My Heavenly Father's Business." As he grew
Further and further from her, quite beyond
The place where speech had meaning or touch flowed
Even at work together in one room
Nothing remained for her but love and pain,
Such love, there was no movement free from pain,
Such pain, it was the soil and birth of love.
How could there be acceptance? Day on day
Like prophets of inevitable doom
Burst with a storm of darkness on her world
And full of instance made the silence peal
With his rejection and all light terrible
With apocalytic vision of the end.

"My Heavenly Father's business." Still she watched
Hopeful of the winged hosts descending to set right
Her days again and give her back her son
Counselling carfulness and fearing too
The time when he would rise and snap the last
Invisible associations of her love
Like threads and go with his unfaltering steps to meet
Out in the darkness that unknown thing she feared
And leave a crown of thorns for memories.
Where was the understanding? He was wise
And he had said when she had asked for peace
And pleaded that among the Pharisees
He could sufficiently perform and teach
The love and good he longed to give to all,
"Be in peace
The peace that passeth understanding
Make that thine."

And so one morning when he answered not
She came and found his straw upon the floor
Cold and the goatskin untouched. Martha said
"Jesus has gone into the wilderness."
Since first she knew that prayer had not ceased.
"Oh God Almighty Give me back my child
Take this cup from me. Thou hast many sons
Oh Father Father Give me back my light."

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