David Gascoyne

(10 October 1916 - 25 November 2001 / London / England)

Orpheus In The Underworld


Curtains of rock
And tears of stone,
Wet leaves in a high crevice of the sky:
From side to side the draperies
Drawn back by rigid hands.

And he came carrying the shattered lyre,
And wearing the blue robes of a king,
And looking through eyes like holes torn in a screen;
And the distant sea was faintly heard,
From time to time, in the suddenly rising wind,
Like a broken song.

Out of his sleep, from time to time,
From between half open lips,
Escaped the bewildered words which try to tell
The tale of his bright night
And his wing-shadowed day
The soaring flights of thought beneath the sun
Above the islands of the seas
And all the deserts, all the pastures, all the plains
Of the distracting foreign land.

He sleeps with the broken lyre between his hands,
And round his slumber are drawn back
The rigid draperies, the tears and wet leaves,
Cold curtains of rock concealing the bottomless sky.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Barry Curtis (12/2/2006 12:16:00 PM)

    This poem and Gascoyne's YVES TANGUY are two of the finest mind-reverberating poems in the English language. I wish his work was more easily
    available in the U.S. (Report) Reply

Read all 1 comments »

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