The Drunken Boat

THE DRUNKEN BOAT

As I went down impassable rivers
Haulers no longer guided me to coasts,
Whooping Indians had taken them for targets,
Having nailed them bare to colored posts.

I didn’t care for the crews, or the hold where
Flemish wheat or English cotton was squeezed.
When all my winches had ended their racket,
The rivers let me drift down where I pleased.

In the furious lapping of the tides
I, last winter, duller than child‘s brains,
I sailed! And peninsulas where I
Cast off haven’t heard more triumphant strains!

The storm blessed my seawatches. Lighter
Than a cork I danced on the waves; ten nights
On these eternal killers of victims−
I didn’t miss the silly lantern lights!

Sweeter than skins of ripe apples to children,
Green water penetrated my fir hulks,
And stains of blue wine and yellow vomit
Washed me, dispersing rudder and hook.

Suddenly I was bathed in the Poem
Of the Sea, infused with milky stars
Eating green azures; where a drowned man
Floats by, pale and ravished, on a spar;

Where delirium and slow rhythms under
Glowing day, suddenly dyeing the blueness,
Stronger than alcohol, vaster than
Our lyres, ferment love’s bitter rednesses!

I know skies rupturing with lightning cracks−
Dawn arisen like a flock of doves, free,
Whirlwinds, surfs and currents; I know the night,
I’ve seen sometimes what men believed they could see!

I’ve seen the low sun, stained with mystical
Horrors, lighting long violet clotting with rays,
Waves rolling their quiver of shutter slats
Like actors in ancient tragical plays.

I’ve dreamed the green night with its glaring snows,
Rising to the sea’s eyes slowly, a kiss,
Circulation of incredible saps,
Blue-yellow waking of singing phosphorus.

I’ve followed for whole months, like tricks
Of maddened cows, the reef-storming sea-surge,
Not dreaming that luminous feet of Marys
Could muzzle the thrusting oceans’ urge!

I’ve struck, you know, incredible Floridas,
Mixing flowers and panthers’ eyes with human hides!
Rainbows stretched out their arcs like bridle reins
Below seas’ horizons, to blue-green herds.

I’ve seen large marshes ferment, and the weirs
Where a Leviathan rotted in stakes!
Waterfalls amid calms, and the distances
Cataracting toward chasms as they shake!

Glaciers, silver suns, pearly waves, coal skies!
At bottoms of brown gulfs hideous wrecks
Where giant serpents devoured by bugs fall
From gnarled trees that exude odors of black!

I should’ve liked to show children all these breams
Of blue wave, fish of gold, these fish that sing!
Flowers’ foams have lulled my driftings and winds–
Unspeakable–have given me my wings!

Sometimes, martyr weary of poles and zones,
The sea whose sob was softening my sweet
Roll raised its shadow flowers with yellow cups−
And I stayed, like a woman on her knees . . .

Peninsula, balancing on my sides
Blond-eyed gossip-birds, their quarrels and turds.
And I was sailing, when across my weak lines
Some drowned men were falling to sleep, backwards!

Now I, boat taken under hairs of coves,
Thrown by the storm into the birdless ether,
I whom the Monitors and Hansa boats
Wouldn’t fish up, drunken carcass of water,

Free, smoking, stocked with violet mists,
I who pierced the sky reddening like a wall
That carries, exquisite jam of good poets,
Some lichens of sun and azure snot-balls;

Who sailed stained with electric half-moons,
Wild plank, escorted by black seahorses,
When Julys made ultramarine skies
Collapse, cudgel blows in the fiery hollows;

Who shook at the moan fifty leagues away
Of thick maelstroms and behemoths in rut!
Eternal spinner of immobile blues,
I miss Europe with its old parapets!

I’ve seen sidereal archipelagoes!
Islands where mad skies opened to the sailor−
Aren’t these nights where you sleep and exile yourself,
O Future Vigor?

But, truly, I’ve cried too much! Dawns
Break hearts. Moons are cruel, suns shine bitterly:
Bitter love has filled me with drunken torpors.
O may my keel burst! O may I go to sea!

If I desire a European water,
It’s the bleak puddle where under a dusk sky
Of sweet smells, a hunched child, sorrowful, lets go
Of a frail boat like a May butterfly.

I can’t anymore, bathed with your languishing,
O waves, catch the cotton carriers’ wakes,
Nor cross the pride of the flags and the pennants,
Nor swim under horrid eyes of prison hulks.
~Arthur Rimbaud

(trans. by Day Williams)

October 31: Wal-Mart Aisle

Wal-Mart Aisle
When traffic is a-beepin’, lights are slow,
The baby is a-cryin’, gas is low,
I’ll shop for clothes in trendy, low-class styles,
And walk a cart along a Wal-Mart aisle.

The men show guts that hang above their belts,
The toddlers cry and howl as ice cream melts;
Dressed in their bathrobes, mothers hunt for sweets
In cluttered racks and bins for trick or treat

On Halloween when Johnny wears a mask
And asks for candy that will rot his teeth,
When candle wax is dripping slow, and cops

Prowl for the pranksters, teenagers with flasks
Of wine, with dummies they swing underneath
The cars whose drivers hear a chilling “plop.”
~Day Williams

 

***

The Lake Isle – Poem by Ezra Pound

poet Ezra Pound

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop,
With the little bright boxes
piled up neatly upon the shelves
And the loose fragment cavendish
and the shag,
And the bright Virginia
loose under the bright glass cases,
And a pair of scales
not too greasy,
And the votailles dropping in for a word or two in passing,
For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit.

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Lend me a little tobacco-shop,
or install me in any profession
Save this damn’d profession of writing,
where one needs one’s brains all the time.

 

~Ezra Pound

 

 

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)
W.B. Yeats by D.W.