Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
Warm September Morning
preps the heart with the sweetness of death
there is in perishing, in the great shedding
as the wind stirs a flurry of leaves and I watch
the elm across the street turn yellow.
Blue soporific oblivion of Indian summer,
like the dust on grapes that haven’t
hemorrhaged yet or withered like the dugs
on a nursing dog trying to wean the winoes.
The aura of a beautiful sorrow, the pathos
of an ancient longing to follow the geese
the stars, the leaves, the wildflowers,
into a dreamless sleep at peace with its own
creative potential to wake up like a waterlily
in a sacred pool of its own tears, not far from here,
to the fact that all that has passed was just
a sad window we were looking at the world through.
Perennial farewells, the pulse of a backbeat
to the rhythm of life, the waterclock of the rose
flowing like a bloodstream over the rock of the heart
like a prophetic skull foreshadowing its own extinction.
The labour of a lifetime to live fruitively
cannot be appeased by the mere relief
of letting go of the heaviness of the windfall
like a bell in a steeple or a needle
on a long playing new moon on the gramophone
of the stars going round and round, white noise
in the ears of the darkness that thought it could hear
the surf of the ocean for a moment there but maybe not.
It’s the unconditional embrace of the earth
unjudgementally accepting the cradles and coffins
of our starmud like a black hole back into its shining
that makes you want to lay your head down
like a planet on the breast of the dark mother
and still the racket that bruises the silence
not just of your ears but your eyes as well,
the struggling and surviving to wonder
like a sceptic with a mystic doubt if it wasn’t
absurd in the first place to go looking for an insight
into the nature and tenure of life as if there were
some kind of spiritual lost and found
for the unclaimed unitive life of a blissful orphan.
Can you still your questions long enough
to hear the answer? The abyss roars with stars
and the doorbells sound like a carillon of wild columbine
on a mammoth bone from the last ice age
as if they were about to be killed off
like the first frost on the paisley windowpanes
Ophelia drowned in like a blue water hyacinth.
Come the bestial orgies in the nunneries of winter
trying to fight off the boredom and the curfew
of living under house arrest at the whim
of the indifferent inclemency of the weather.
Sweetness on the face of a day on earth that senses
the agon of the summer to live beyond its means
as a fundamental of growth is coming to an end
in a solar flare of sumac immolating itself
like the shamanistic death of a dragon sage,
the ashes of the dream wiser than the flames
of the daylilies it lets overwhelm it like a cremation
that goes on blossoming long after the fire’s past.
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