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George Barker

O Child Beside The Waterfall

O Child beside the Waterfall
what songs without a word
rise from those waters like the call
only a heart has heard-
the Joy, the Joy in all things
rise whistling like a bird.

O Child beside the Waterfall
I hear them too, the brief
heavenly notes, the harp of dawn,
the nightingale on the leaf,
all, all dispel the darkness and
the silence of our grief.

O Child beside the Waterfall
I see you standing there
with waterdrops and fireflies
and hummingbirds in the air,
all singing praise of paradise,
paradise everywhere.

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Circular from America

Against the eagled
Hemisphere
I lean my eager
Editorial ear
And what the devil
You think I hear?
I hear the Beat
No not of the heart
But the dull palpitation
Of the New Art
As, on the dead tread,
Mill of no mind,
It follows its leaders
Unbeaten behind.
O Kerouac Kerouac
What on earth shall we do
If a single Idea
Ever gets through?
. . . 1/2 an idea
To a hundred pages

[...] Read more

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To My Mother

Most near, most dear, most loved and most far,
Under the window where I often found her
Sitting as huge as Asia, seismic with laughter,
Gin and chicken helpless in her Irish hand,
Irresistible as Rabelais, but most tender for
The lame dogs and hurt birds that surround her -
She is a procession no one can follow after
But be like a little dog following a brass band.

She will not glance up at the bomber, or condescend
To drop her gin and scuttle to a cellar,
But lean on the mahogany table like a mountain
Whom only faith can move, and so I send
O all my faith, and all my love to tell her
That she will move from mourning into morning.

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Sonnet To My Mother

Most near, most dear, most loved, and most far,
Under the huge window where I often found her
Sitting as huge as Asia, seismic with laughter,
Gin and chicken helpless in her Irish hand,
Irresistible as Rabelais but most tender for
The lame dogs and hurt birds that surround her,—
She is a procession no one can follow after
But be like a little dog following a brass band.
She will not glance up at the bomber or condescend
To drop her gin and scuttle to a cellar,
But lean on the mahogany table like a mountain
Whom only faith can move, and so I send
O all her faith and all my love to tell her
That she will move from mourning into morning.

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Grandfather, Grandfather

Grandfather, Grandfather,
what do pandas say?
Grandfather, Grandfather,
as among the rocks they roll
and rather sadly play
a game that seems
to do with dreams
of places far away.
Grandfather, Grandfather,
what do pandas say?

Grand-daughter, Grand-daughter,
when the pandas play
rather sadly in the rocks
this is what they say
to one another as they seem
to remember in a dream
those places far away:
'Let us tell no one
the word that we say

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Turn on your side and bear the day to me

Turn on your side and bear the day to me
Beloved, sceptre-struck, immured
In the glass wall of sleep. Slowly
Uncloud the borealis of your eye
And show your iceberg secrets, your midnight prizes
To the green-eyed world and to me. Sin
Coils upward into thin air when you awaken
And again morning announces amnesty over
The serpent-kingdomed bed. Your mother
Watched with as dove an eye the unforgivable night
Sigh backward into innocence when you
Set a bright monument in her amorous sea.
Look down, Undine, on the trident that struck
Sons from the rock of vanity. Turn in the world
Sceptre-struck, spellbound, beloved,
Turn in the world and bear the day to me.

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To Any Member Of My Generation

What is it you remember? - the summer mornings
Down by the river at Richmond with a girl,
And as you kissed, clumsy in bathing costumes,
History guffawed in a rosebush. What a warning -
If only we had known, if only we had known!
And when you looked in mirrors was this meaning
Plain as the pain in the centre of a pearl?
Horrible tomorrow in Teutonic postures
Making absurd the past we cannot disown?

Whenever we kissed we cocked the future's rifles
And from our wild-oat words, like dragon's teeth,
Death underfoot now arises; when we were gay
Dancing together in what we hoped was life,
Who was it in our arms but the whores of death
Whom we have found in our beds today, today?

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Summer Song

I looked into my heart to write
And found a desert there.
But when I looked again I heard
Howling and proud in every word
The hyena despair.

Great summer sun, great summer sun,
All loss burns in trophies;
And in the cold sheet of the sky
Lifelong the fishlipped lovers lie
Kissing catastrophes.

O loving garden where I lay
When under the breasted tree
My son stood up behind my eyes
And groaned: Remember that the price
Is vinegar for me.

Great summer sun, great summer sun,
Turn back to the designer:

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On a Friend's Escape from Drowning off the Norfolk Coast

Came up that cold sea at Cromer like a running grave
Beside him as he struck
Wildly towards the shore, but the blackcapped wave
Crossed him and swung him back,
And he saw his son digging in the castled dirt that could save.
Then the farewell rock
Rose a last time to his eyes. As he cried out
A pawing gag of the sea
Smothered his cry and he sank in his own shout
Like a dying airman. Then she
Deep near her son asleep on the hourglass sand
Was awakened by whom
Save the Fate who knew that this was the wrong time:
And opened her eyes
On the death of her son's begetter. Up she flies
Into the hydra-headed
Grave as he closes his life upon her who for
Life has so richly bedded him.
But she drove through his drowning like Orpheus and tore
Back by his hair

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Morning in Norfolk

As it has for so long
come wind and all weather
the house glimmers among
the mists of a little
river that splinters, it
seems, a landscape of
winter dreams. In the far
fields stand a few
bare trees decorating
those mists like the fanned
patterns of Georgian
skylights. The home land
of any heart persists
there, suffused with
memories and mists not
quite concealing the
identities and lost
lives of those loved once
but loved most. They haunt it
still. To the watermeadows

[...] Read more

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