Tag Archives: Mick Song

Philomel

by Mick Song


I

The wind blows, softly calling to the homeland,

my Irish girl. Where are you lingering?

              Une île paresseuse où la nature donne

              des arbres singuliers et des fruits savoureux

Listless. With empty ports, you sleep

alongside your mother: the cur, immortal priestess.

The ships are not welcome to harbor and

thereon the sailors float — caught hold of rocks —

for two days and two nights;

they wait for calm seas to depart.

Amphitrite knows nothing of your mind, endless

suffering of the hands and striking of oars.

Why are you staying?

              Dans la grande rue sale les étals se dressèrent,

              et l’on tira les barques vers la mer étagée là –

              haut comme sur les gravures.

You are prepared for the flood, the cur for

the drought — there were once caravans

flowing with purple flowers and brown salts;

parasols in the sun and your arm in mine

under a full moon in the Hofgarten —

Since then, springtime in the orchard remains

similar from year to year. We are children

of the clay: reddened and weary with time.

II

Not dust. We are not dust.

Though our reflections were but haze

when I saw the future. Delirious and

hateful — O modest angel — Mme Marguerite

told me and cried into the palm of my hands.

Each tear an orb with light in each

crashing. The sphere’s music was languor:

I hated it. Monstrous and static like

the language you reserve.

She spoke quietly, acknowledging my discomfort.

              Nessum maggior delore

              che ricordarsi del tempo felice

              ne la miseria.

I cried. Cast out

my fears, a net of fire to the sea,

woven so fine that no hope may escape.

There is no passing through the gate nor

knowing of the secrets.

III

              I sung of Chaos and eternal Night

              Taught by the heav’nly Muse to venture down

              The dark descent, and up to reascend.

Was happiness just a dream of youth, or a

ripple of a fountain since extinguished?

Marguerite said that it is not so. That

salt — still bitter in tears — is not to be

thrown away. I have since run away from her;

her rags and decaying shelter look

as if they fell many months ago.

              Et O ces voix d’enfants, chantant dans la coupole!

I love you.

I love you, too.

These are words children say to each other,

something sweet like your voice between the whisper

of the pine. I remember the days when

we looked out of bright windows

and doors that were open in the street.

The golden bowl was not broken and the

silver cord that we tied together held us close.

IV

              List, good Moon, where I learnt my loving.

Now Pythia gives me perfumes and tells me to forget.

I was welcomed this seventh — for a year I

have waited in queue — to receive my fate.

We are all weary of being possessed, she says.

I am to believe that. Vanity of vanities!

All is vanity.

V

Is it surprising that the female nightingale is mute

and that Philomel must be a man?

The Nymphs tell me that all flowers do fade

and that neither shepherd nor shepherdess can dance or sing.

              Perhaps I never heard you, yet my life

              I bound to your life, inseparably,

sweet harbinger of spring.

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