2621 Chapters
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A Vision (UD, 282/2)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Thoughts on Dying

Put pennies on their eyes and then

Adapt your grief –

Something to tame and live with and

A kind of consolation when

There is no other warm relief

Except the dumb, strained need to understand.

Sometimes I think it must be as

Time is to children, no perspective but

Minutes drawn back leaving an empty space,

Best tenanted with both eyes shut.

Something of this stares out from each dead face.

But there is fear also:

Not the clear animation of pure awe

A terrified desire not to go

Be as one was before –

Alive and with a half-thought dread,

A curiosity that draws one to,

Even in mute disgust, those who are dead.

A Vision

She held the moment, watched the sun

Unbend upon the half-fledged corn.

Each fragile movement seemed to stun

The vision she had borne:

Not of a child or lights flung down

Or angels hiding in dim wings –

She saw the grey, the graceless town

And painful silent things

She knew she could not bring to birth

That moment. There was nothing she

Could find in sunlight or in earth

To shape her ecstasy.

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III - The Outside

Ford, Ford Madox Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF



It must have been in 1894 that I first left London to take up agriculture. I have done that three or four times in as many countries.

Before then I must have formed nomadic habits for I hardly remember a year of which I did not spend a great portion outside

England until today when, rather to my surprise, I find myself a legally domiciled citizen of Gotham and I am again contemplating taking up farming – this time in Tennessee if not in Provence. At any rate I have never felt myself quite happy or quite a man when

I did not possess and work at least a small piece of land. Then I would leave it to a bailiff and go to the other side of the globe.

Before I was twenty I had spent three winters in Paris and two summers in Germany. In Paris I studied agriculture, or rather kitchen gardening – at the Sorbonne under the great professor

Gressent. In Bonn I studied history under my uncle Hermann who was Professor of Canon Law at that University. Professor Gressent was the first exponent of the hoe. He used to begin all his lessons by saying, ‘Messieurs, trois fois biner vaut deux fois engraisser…

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The Essential

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

The Essential

It will never cease, this needing, never be over.

Should it be otherwise?

Age increases but passion stays. Either lover

Or friend brightens my eyes

And as in childhood move in amazement still.

Wonder never dies.

And should not surely. Let me never become

Listless, cynical or

Uncaring about sad news of a human event.

Let me not care for size,

Even a sense of proportion can mean a want

Of love. May I not be wise

If wisdom means often standing aside or aloof,

Letting the world go on.

I care, I need, I still feel passion in love,

I tilt my face to the sun.

I cannot care for millions. Nobody can,

But from childhood I’ve minded the grief simply of one.

May I end then as I began.

Talking of Hume

People were talking of Hume the philosopher

Also the man who many thought was a saint,

But I was listening to his theories where

The sensuous world was held in doubt. This meant

That the writing of poetry had no purpose. So

It seemed to me. In an illusory world

Art would double the unreality, do

Away with the need. Then I heard a bold

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Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


It is empty. Anyone entering hears

The creak of themselves. Boxes once

Held moth-eaten clothes and Teddy Bears.

That was before the going,

The gathering-up for the dance.

It is almost impossible to feel

Untouched by haphazard memory’s glance.

Either your own or another’s will steal

Into the gala of going,

The drawing-away to dance.


Were the others warned of this also

Who saw the fingers flimsy as that disc

Of palatable bread, the over-flow

Of soda-water swallowed with no risk?

They must have seen the slow

Faltering, the body drooping dress

And cardigan. But they had their own ways –

Deafness, the tilted mind, or loneliness.

At first it was an ectoplasmic haze

I saw her through, distress,

Fear of my own, all that I had been told.

Motives don’t mean much when uncoffined death

Walks in a woman not aware of cold,

Knowing, however, that each push of breath

Has not the power to hold.

She talked no stoic talk, nor thrived on past

Promise. She did not know I knew she had

The medical prediction and forecast

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Near Despair, 1987 (GU, 2/27/1)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

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