Sunday, February 26, 2012

Robert Duncan, "The Song of the Border-Guard"

The man with his lion under the shed of wars
sheds his belief as if he shed tears.
The sound of words waits—
a barbarian host at the border-line of sense.

The enamourd guards desert their posts
harkening to the lion-smell of a poem
that rings in their ears.

—Dreams, a certain guard said,
    were never designd so
    to re-arrange an empire.

    Along about six o’clock I take out my guitar
    and sing to a lion
    who sleeps like a line of poetry
    in the shed of wars.

The man shedding his belief
knows that the lion is not asleep,
does not dream, is never asleep,
is a wide-awake poem
waiting like a lover for the disrobing of the guard;
the beautiful boundaries of the empire
naked, rapt round in the smell of a lion.

(The barbarians have passd over the significant phrase)

—When I was asleep,
         a certain guard says,
     a man shed his clothes as if he shed tears
         and appeard as a lonely lion
     waiting for a song under the shed-roof of wars.

I sang the song that he waited to hear,
I, the Prize-Winner, the Poet-Acclaimd.

Dear, dear, dear, dear, I sang,
believe, believe, believe, believe.
The shed of wars is splendid as the sky,
houses our waiting like a pure song
housing in its words the lion-smell
         of the beloved disrobed.

I sang: believe, believe, believe.

         I the guard because of my guitar
believe. I am the certain guard,
certain of the Beloved, certain of the Lion,
certain of the Empire. I with my guitar.
Dear, dear, dear, dear, I sing.
I, the Prize-Winner, the Poet on Guard.

The border-lines of sense in the morning light
are naked as a line of poetry in a war.

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