new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

But that was no defeat. Defeat, my friend,
Is a simple thing, and past your understanding.
Defeat is no cry in the night, no sudden banding
Together of men beleaguered, no comrade glance at the end . . .

These are bold colours. Defeat is woven in grey . . .
Defeat is a little smile, a turning away.

Defeat is no rebel voice thrust down in a clamorous world,
Nor the bitter cry of the heart that wastes its breath.
Defeat is a courteous thing, more quiet than death.
Defeat is the nameless banner not once unfurled.

For a vanquished horn may ring noble up cleft and hill,
But defeat is deaf to music. Defeat lies still.

Over the Macedon heights cried they, "Thalatta the Sea "
Yet had they never won to the foam and the dragon-gold gleaming,
Still had their hearts like prows furrowed some sea of dreaming,
Still had their weary eyes envisioned an argosy.

But defeat is a blind man prone in a cleft of the sunburnt sands,
And the waves not a bowshot away. But he sees not, nor understands.


Last updated 21 September, 2003