A Different History by Sujata Bhatt
Great Pan is not dead;
he simply emigrated
Here the gods roam freely,
disguised as snakes or monkeys;
every tree is sacred
and it is a sin
to be rude to a book.
It is a sin to shove a book aside
with your foot,
a sin to slam books down
hard on the table
a sin to toss one carelessly
across a room.
You must learn how to turn the pages gently
without disturbing Sarasvati,
without offending the tree
from whose wood the paper was made.
has not been the oppressor’s tongue? Which language
truly meant to murder someone?
And how does it happen
that after the torture,
after the soul has been cropped
with a long scythe swooping out
of the conqueror’s face-
the unborn grandchildren
grow to love that strange language.
Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Continuum by Allen Curnow
The moon rolls over the roof and falls behind
my house, and the moon does neither of these things,
I am talking about myself.
It’s not possible to get off to sleep or
the subject or the planet, nor to think thoughts.
Better barefoot it out the front.
door and lean from the porch across the privets
and the palms into the washed-out creation,
a dark place with two particular
bright clouds dusted (query) by the moon, one’s mine
the other’s an adversary, which may depend
on the wind, or something.
A long moment stretches, the next one is not
on time. Not unaccountably the chill of
the planking underfoot rises.
in the throat, for it’s part the night sky empties
the whole of it’s contents down. Turn on a bare
heel, close the door behind
on the author, cringing demiurge, who picks up
his litter and his tools and paces me back
to bed, stealthily in step.
Horses by Edwin Muir
Those lumbering horses in the steady plough,
On the bare field - I wonder, why, just now,
They seemed terrible, so wild and strange,
Like magic power on the stony grange.
Perhaps some childish hour has come again,
When I watched fearful, through the blackening rain,
Their hooves like pistons in an ancient mill
Move up and down, yet seem as standing still.
Their conquering hooves which trod the stubble down
Were ritual that turned the field to brown,
And their great hulks were seraphims of gold,
Or mute ecstatic monsters on the mould.
And oh the rapture, when, one furrow done,
They marched broad-breasted to the sinking sun!
The light flowed off their bossy sides in flakes;
The furrows rolled behind like struggling snakes.
But when at dusk with steaming nostrils home
They came, they seemed gigantic in the gloam,
And warm and glowing with mysterious fire
That lit their smouldering bodies in the mire.
Their eyes as brilliant and as wide as night
Gleamed with a cruel apocalyptic light,
Their manes the leaping ire of the wind
Lifted with rage invisible and blind.
Ah, now it fades! It fades! And I must pine
Again for the dread country crystalline,
Where the blank field and the still-standing tree
Were bright and fearful presences to me.
Hunting snake by Judith Wright
Sun-warmed in this late season’s grace
under the autumn’s gentlest sky
we walked, and froze half-through a pace.
The great black snake went reeling by.
Head down, tongue flickering on the trail
he quested through the parting grass,...