Stephen Spender

(28 February 1909 – 16 July 1995 / England)

The Labourer In The Vineyard


Here are the ragged towers of vines
Stepped down the slope in terraces.

Through torn spaces between spearing leaves
The lake glows with waters combed sideways,
And climbing up to reach the vine-spire vanes
The mountain crests beyond the far shore
Paint their sky of glass with rocks and snow.

Lake below, mountains above, between
Turrets of leaves, grape-triangles, the labourer stands.

His tanned trousers form a pedestal,
Coarse tree-trunk rising from the earth with bark
Peeled away at the navel to show
Shining torso of sun-burnished god
Breast of lyre, mouth coining song.

My ghostly, passing-by thoughts gather
Around his hilly shoulders, like those clouds
Around those mountain peaks their transient scrolls.

He is the classic writing all this day,
Through his mere physical being focussing
All into nakedness. His hand
With outspread fingers is a star whose rays
Concentrate timeless inspiration
Onto the god descended in a vineyard
With hand unclenched against the lake's taut sail
Flesh filled with statue, as the grape with wine.

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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