Ern Malley Addresses Vladimir Ilyich Lenin:
We are stardust,
We are golden,
And we got to get ourselves
Back to the garden,
– Joni Mitchell, ‘Woodstock’ (1969 song)
I remonstrate with you mon frere, mon petit,
Comrade, when I recollect that stray remark of Keats –
Spoken as the shadow fell, spoken as the vision of alveoli
Blossomed in the coral garden of his brain,
As their red bloom brambled and rose
To form gleaming threads of scarlet upon his lips,
Binding him ever more brightly to his eclipse.
His words fell, as oaken leaves became a crimson couch,
As the nightingale sang of surrender sweet.
Never, he said, Let your heart ope with the spring flowers
An inch of love is an inch of ashes.
Measure by incremental measure, I, like you,
Am steeped in this life too deep. I wade a wash
Of carbuncular sea. I have inculcated
Constellations of tubercle bacilli with verse,
And worse salted entire potentialities
Of Truth and Beauty with my tears.
O my impossible, incognisant, apocryphal love!
I have always distrusted your Apollonian speech.
You were to be Epoch Maker
Instead, you became he who does not mean a thing.
Autumn leaves decay as nightingales decay.
Poor Fanny Bawne, and her many sisters, wither
In the timeless flame of your disregard.
My voice peals out Bounty, Youth, Beauty and Truth.
Dear friend, this is how it ends, you sealed like
Sleeping Beauty in your mausoleum of glass.
And me, I’m mired in earth.
Here lies one whose name flowered
But briefly, in dirt.
Is it Keats who calls?
Ernest Lalor Malley, come on down
And down and down and down I came
Falling like floating.
It was like hitting the sky backwards,
On this my return to the garden.
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