new zealand electronic poetry centre


A.R.D. Fairburn

online works


From the cliff-top it appeared a place of defeat,
the nest of an extinct bird, or the hole where the sea hoards its bones,
a pocket of night in the sun-faced rock,
sole emblem of mystery and death in that enormous noon.

We climbed down, and crossed over the sand,
and there were islands floating in the wind-whipped blue,
and clouds and islands trembling in your eyes,
and every footstep and every glance
was a fatality felt and unspoken, our way
rigid and glorious as the sunís path,
unbroken as the genealogy of man.

And when we had passed beyond
into the secret place and were clasped
by the titanic shadows of the earth,
all was transfigured, all was redeemed,
so that we escaped from the days
that had hunted us like wolves, and from ourselves,
in the brief eternity of the flesh.

There should be the shapes of leaves and flowers
printed on the rock, and a blackening of the walls
from the flame on your mouth,
to be found by the lovers straying
from the picnic two worlds hence, to be found and known,
because the form of the dream is always the same,
and whatever dies or changes this will persist and recur,
will compel the means and the end, find consummation,
whether it be
silent in swansdown and darkness, or in grass moonshadow-mottled,
or in a murmuring cave of the sea.

We left, and returned to our lives:

the act entombed, its essence caught
for ever in the wind, and in the noise of waves,
for ever mixed
with loversí breaths who by salt-water coasts
in the seaís beauty dwell.

© A.R.D. Fairburn

Last updated 24 June, 2002