David Gascoyne

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

The Writer's Hand


What is your want, perpetual invalid
Whose fist is always beating on my breast's
Bone wall, incurable dictator of my house
And breaker of its peace? What is your will,
Obscure uneasy sprite : where must I run,
What must I seize, to win
A brief respite from your repining cries?

Is it a star, the passionate short spark
Produced by friction with another's flesh
You ache more darkly after. Is it power :
To snap restriction's leash, to leap
Like bloodhounds on the enemy? There is no grip
Can crush the fate you fight. Or is it to escape
Into the dream-perspectives maps and speed create?

You never listen, disillusion's dumb
To your unheeding ear. But see my hand,
The only army to enforce your claim
Upon life's hostile land : five pale, effete
Aesthetic-looking fingers, whose chief feat
Is to trace lines like these across a page :
What small relief can they bring to your siege!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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