Dionysiac (1966)

Aquavit and beer to chase it
On the patio, narrow between broken walls,
And a black bird from Java in a Steinberg cage
Whistling in the sun.
After the aquavit (a wedding relic), Scotch
With beer to chase it; and after the Scotch,
Meanwhile Antonia Vivaldi ran his Seasons
Hi-fi all four of them fiddling the flame to the sun’s smouldering quiet.
Then the flamenco. Whereupon
Up rose Bernardino
And shuffled a slow dance
Seagull-eyed and penguin-footed
Up and along the path in a reverie of castanets
Self-enwrapped, self-in-the-sun-enchanted.
More eloquent even the stillness of the silent girl
Whose blue unseasonable eyes and quiet hands
Incarnadined the air with the tendrilled passion.
The dreaming dance of her stillness shapes in its fingers her heart
            to a helix of flame;
Her eyes are lapis lazuli in a crystal skull.
The music will never end. Her hands, as still as birds,
Renounce all motion, enclosed in the flame of her silence
While the sun stands still and the bird pours down its indolent
            song unregarding.
Here by the brooks of desire and in the mountains
The sacrificial torches run indecorous through groves of sleep
Hounding the dainty antelopes, soft to the touch,
Till they lie dismembered, and their eyes filled with darkness.
Now while the sun is high, while the music revolves
As unregarding and blank as that bird’s bright eye,
The patio is desolate and the house empty.
If there is life still, it does not move and there is no sign of it.
The garrulous silence of an abdicated sorrow falls
Whimpering from dark to dark through the aching spaces of the mind
And the frenzy of this torrential sacrament
Is gathered into a quiet cage
Ingeniously constructed
Of blazing music, birdsong, and a grave dance
In a narrow place between broken walls.