new zealand electronic poetry centre


Kendrick Smithyman

online works

Brief History of Western Philosopy: The Bicycle

       Did Bertrand Russell first adjust his hat?
Probably not, but carefully he wrapped
his trousers round his ankles, then clipped,
hiked his leg over and pushed off
pedalling away towards his mistress.
Marriage was finished, as he thought.
The road ahead was fairly level going.
Traffic was not heavy.

        Heidegger never learned to drive a car.
The enemy was getting close; he might be
arrested on the spot. He took his bicycle,
pedalling east towards his old hometown,
Messkirch. The good life in Freiburg was behind.
        Student Nolte pedalling faster overtook:
"Professor, sir, your wife has sent you this,"
a knapsack stuffed with laundry freshly ironed,
some food. Thoughtful Elfride, ever on the job,
she knew the road ahead would be tough going
and the traffic—best not dwell on that.

         ‘There are, indeed, things that cannot be
put into words. They make themselves manifest.
They are what is mystical.’
                                             Wittgenstein, 6.522

From Last Poems (The Holloway Press, 2002)


Last updated 13 December, 2002