David Campbell (16 July 1915 - 29 July 1979 / Ellerslie)
To The Art of Edgar Degas
Beachcomber on the shores of tears
Limning the gestures of defeat
In dancers, whores, and opera-stars –
The lonely, lighted various street
You sauntered through, oblique, perverse,
In your home territory a spy,
Accosted you and with a curse
You froze it with your Gorgon’s eye.
With what tense patience you refine
The everyness of everyday
And with free colour and a line
Make my mysteries of flaccid clay!
By what strange enterprise you live!
Edgy, insatiably alone,
You choose your tenderness to give
To showgirls whom you turn to stone –
But stone that moves, tired stone that leans
To ease involuntarily the toe
Of ballet-girls like watering-cans
(Those arguers at the bar) as though
In their brief pause you found relief
From posed dilemmas of the mind-
Your grudging aristocratic grief,
The wildcat cares of going blind.
Well, walk your evening streets and look
Each last eleven at the show:
The darkening pleasures you forsook
Look back like burning windows now.
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