Canzon – (for singing)

after Cavalcanti



My donna prays, 'Say' - 
                        such is my volition, dearly!
'of one accident, 
                  which so vents 
                                 itself, ferociously
to alter old Guido'. 
                     It's amatory. Ah, more, eh?
Some chill nay-
                sayers even perceive it clearly
and I'm at present 
                   cognisant 
                             their old
hope's gone where old 
                      hopes go. Old story!
Whencever they import their cognisance
I sense
        (no Nature-demonstration meant, o
no, no talent to
                 die!) no will to prove
by exhaustion Love's bed here, nor its prime-mover's;
nor to test its virtue, lack of impotence,
essence, 
         or what indeed it's sent to
do, or bent on.
                I can't say, and you've
no stylus for its groove.
It plants its scars
                    in memory, and
they're its state. 
                   It's form? Wait. 
                                    Make
it silken spume 
                spilled out from dark which charts
a path from Mars. 
                  And Love, what's more, has
been created! 
              is sensate! 
                          Takes
from the soul its costume, 
                           its desire from the heart!
It starts in visible form, and then intends
to befriend 
            all feasible intellects
(those which have subjects!) 
                             It has a home,
but fidgets - like as not will roam
about a bit, though of course it won't (in any sense) descend...
It stays resplendent 
                     in its eternal aspect
- not for our delectation, 
                           but as a comb
for thought... the kind of thing you won't catch in a poem.
It's not virtue,
                 though, but the quested source
of Perfection
              (which it's treason
                                  to offend).
It isn't rational:
                   you just sense it. I did!
It's past solution:
                    forces
Invention 
          to be Reason's
                          end.
Chooses irrationally.
                      Feeds on weakness. Why did
it ever decide, though, to hang around with Death?
If Love's dance 
                 should find its course impeded,
if it's conceded 
                 that the way's
not blocked by some natural enemy,
maybe Perfection's fluffed a shibboleth.
'Chance' 
         doesn't govern the life you lead.
If your needs 
              outrun your authority,
don't blame the dice. Love spoiled your party.
It comes to the hand 
                     when Want is a giant
out of all measure - 
                     i.e. Nature's - 
                                     turned.
It's never adorned 
                   in poseur's pleats
but sweeps the land, 
                     a psychedelic plant
(unstable figure), 
                   features 
                            grinned or gurned,
burnt-
       on by pokers, planed back off in sheets.
The gentle brave find it their treasure-trove,
the glove 
          to keep their quality unfrayed.
It's sprayed 
             the Ego down a groundless hole
where flames of thirst are fuelled by the soul.
You can't imaging anything of
Love till it's moved 
                     you. Time will see you preyed on.
Love was not made 
                  to bend to a slight goal:
it can display surprising self-control.
One look is dragged 
                    from a recognised complexion:
to Delight, 
            it seems right - 
                             yes, certain
to entertain 
             all manner of half-grown
hopes. It's not in the bag 
                           yet - and on reflection
it might 
         be better 
                   to remain...
no, here we go again. 
                      The Twilight Zone!
You'll never find it in a living face:
there's grace, 
               but not there.
You do well, 
             if the eyes you trust
aren't physical, but those transcending dust.
There is no shade, but essence fixed in space,
light racing 
             out from darkness, and despair
defeated, Hell 
               undone, unrusting
honour preserved by Love, among the just.
The world's your blotter, canzon:
your structure's so ornate
that, late 
           or soon, a legion
will sense what Reason made you,
not what committee brayed you.
 after Ezra Pound and Louis Zukofsky

Published in Between Cup and Lip.  Written 1991.  Forgive lazy web format job…

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