a poem in forty-four parts

It is a new work with your mark on it
Cut up into little stars – diluted with rain-water
No-one thinks like you
That about the child

How one writes & writes over & over the same thing!
But day by day the same sun rises, . . . over & over & nobody is tired
That I should have forgotten you or so remembered you
This morning’s letter here – I will go sit presently

And walk it back to its senses
Held up in that light
I to whom they are sun, air & human voices
A promise of pure gold, & thank you, as pure gold

I could not bear to have words from you which the world might listen to
And walk, walk




Dearest, you are the best,
A very, very, very “little lower than the angels!”
Thursday is our day, I think
It is easier to say ‘thursday’ on monday than on saturday

I cannot distinguish between your acts now
The actual good you get out of me,
May be stated at about two commas
& a semi-colon, you on the other side

I cannot, cannot
You might have said one word
What do you think I have been doing today?

You are kissed whether you feel it or not
The written thing with a shadow of meaning stays
I should not reconcile myself to your picture




I forgot to say anything yesterday
This morning I mean
Observe how the days are made
The Homer-subject till to-morrow

And then speak arrows, voice within voice!
Happiness does not come with the sun or rain
If one shuts one’s eyes & listens to the birds singing
A break of the blue real sky with a star in it

No note to guide me no note to guide me
And half put into my mouth
Rubbing out figure by figure
A good deal nearer the angels

Writing such unlawful, disorderly things
Today has gone by with me




Happiness goes the same way to my fancy
Safe, & free, & calm & pure
I nearly fell backward down the stairs
I will tell you this year of grace

I felt as if my voice & breath went together
Ran violent down a steep place
Into some sort of conversation
They are gone and forgotten

The whole world lying in darkness
The thread of a sentence will not
Lie still, out of the way

But you go higher and it is the same thing
Time is fearfully short, forgive me my short-
Comings every hour in the day




I hardly dare cry out lest the charm break
Where I go, you go where I descend,
It is after you like Tennyson’s blackbird
What a mad folly marriage would be!

Who, who began calling names
It’s warm, the rain like you
Yesterday I planted a full dozen
More rose-trees, all white

But you really think the confirmation
Of that last sentence, and you promise
You promise at the very lowest
Calculation, writing to me on every

Day we did not meet I cannot
Distinguish between your acts





Take my – last words I ever shall send you
It is part of the horror of such things
The words “at once,” taken out “virtually”
The inevitable horrors of dirt and roughness

Nothing can be done, nothing effectual
My time is out, too much, & too out of place
So free!  So free as a matter of pure reason
Poor world – it is more desperately wrong than I thought

Yet the chance (as chance) seems much the same
“Here be proofs” – the system operates beyond
The limits of its operations, quarrelsome letters

As I choose you are wrong & if you are wrong,
How are we to get it right, we all look to you
Instead of opening the door & keeping your secret




I would just call the police
Promises & vows may be foolish things
For the most part it is so wet & dreary
Do you not see? . . . & think of you . . . do you not feel?

All your corrections are golden
“Little circle” to “circling faces”
The postman fell into a trance
A little, little less thought

To conceive of things, which nevertheless are
Do you smile?  & will you “take aim” this time
First of all kiss me in as few words as possible
Is “society” a thing to desire to participate in?

Men who “live” only in the first instance
Next, men who attend to the world first.




Society is not worth living in
The lowest possible ground
“What loss is there?”
His word was nothing

Is language only a shade
Removed from all harm
He is nothing
It is society’s affair

Spoken or unspoken
The poorest creature
Dreams of being angry

Then he must
Go into the world
To say as little




Out of the world by being let go quietly
To say to the people I find between
Do you look to this point and slap his face
In every possible shape I speak for the world,

Not for me because of a dull day
Its unmistakeable shape by a touch or two
Then directly before the sacrifice of little
I only speak as I see & of the sun

Shines on as brightly, I read . . . “first of all,
Kiss” . . . so it seemed like magic
Disagreeing letters leave off loving me
At the end I seem to see through this crevice

How it would be like the sun’s setting . . .
Only, more darkness, more pain




Deserve to know, in a sense, “read by your light”
I listened for the footsteps . . . the footsteps of my letter
Always, always!  Yet you cannot, you know, –
You know you cannot for knowledge for more

Reasons than one there was sunshine for you
For you never to have seen my face
‘In the city’ I seem to have more need
Than usual of seeing you, how can you,

Seeing so much, see that “possibility” ever
Arise in me to you I am wholly yours
In the matter we refer to I am growing

Conscious of one or two repetitions
The words are words, and faulty,
Inexpressive, or wrongly expressive




I live under your eyes, and die I came home dead
It went to my heart & stayed there in the night
At dream-time no words but just your own,
Between heaven & earth weights of flowers

Try to understand what I mean as it will be
As much mine as yours, & yours as mine
Rather, rather see winking eyes . . . & that
Other word is . . . I write what I write to throw

It off my mind & have done
Wednesday or thursday shall be our day
Without blotting the air
Writing notes this morning

Perfect rest and happiness here on earth
All ending in the marriage day




I want the love at one life’s end
In the ordinary chances of life
Two “great lights” to rule the day & night
I write without waiting & looked, and looked, & looked

I like the note beyond the imagination
Tell me – I was going to write that “Tell me”
The window being wide open, I walked straight to it to shut it
The shadow had a sign of you I looked after it till it vanished

Now the black intervals
I believe and want not ‘proof’
Have you a pair of scales like Zeus & me?

With respect to the immediate
We breathe together, understand together, know, feel, live
“Not to go out in the open air” –




The explanatory note fills up prose after prose
The feelings must remain unwritten – unsung too
Kind, and kinder & kindest
My life & love flow steadily under all those bubbles

A serious purpose of going out, walking out
Flies are flies . . as flies
A talking ladder to something else
The intellectual worker looking up to the stars at nights

If there were no motion there would be no morning
If one built a palace without a noise to make a noise
Would “commit suicide” rather than live as you
Dropping its blotchy oil all the bright colours of our poetry!

If you knew how hard it is for me
As if you were not in the world with me




Is it wrong to laugh a little, to put it off let your thoughts be with me
One comfort is, the walking in a moment in the field
I see a beautiful sunshine how we would go out
I lock out the world and then look down on it

There is a vast view from our greatest hill
Wordsworth was shown that hill
“R.B. lives over there by that HILL”
Wordsworth – “we call that, such as that, – a rise”!

Perhaps if Hatcham should not be swept away
In the Railway “scirocco” I may see
The “hill” or “rise” at some distant day

I would rather see it than Wordsworth’s mountain?
I write nothing about your walking with me by
The garden wall, and on the hill, and looking down on London?




Here shall be my ending “for reasons, for reasons”.
A voice talked to me of the “west wind”
In the last moment of sleep the language everywhere
Only opened the window & let in, the air

Oh I might have been there today, or yesterday, or the day before
What trees?  Cherry trees?  Apple trees?  Pear trees?
Mr Browning writing when he should be walking
Beginning by any sort of lane

Poets are the worst species of men I accept my chances
I received the moment the delivered message, and then
Take a step for myself we had a great talk
Proved they were clear noonday blazes

& that his eyes were just dazzled carry it away
To some friend of his, unnamed




I have the whole effect in my memory
Distinctly to throw away such beautiful work
Out of the window into the dark as if the words
Were too near, for the speaker to be so far

It is always when one is asleep that dream-angels come
The poorest brown butterfly
Will seek out a brown stone in a gravel walk
The thinnest of gauze canopies crowning delight

Your last note for a particular purpose
Why the wrongness . . . dear as the rightness
The contemplation of the others

First on returning to them that adorable spirit
In all these phrases phrases which fall into my heart
Who was giver altogether and who taker




Unconsciousness is wrong I cannot imagine
Any point of view I feel it everyday, I tell myself
Everyday what I mean to say from the beginning
To try and explain what is unexplainable

Too entirely mine this minute, – my heart’s, my senses’
The real hold of my heart can hold this letter
The words break down, yet I will be trying to use them!
Shake this elixir, & you have more & more

Bubbles on the surface of it you were in the dark
Let the shutter be opened suddenly
I stretch out my hands & must still fade away further
We stand in different positions when the light

Is gone the only real thing? Some good reader
Had /recited>repeated/ “the Duchess” to him




The short morning shadow of ‘vanity’
The cedars grow, upward, & without noise
The darkness you cause upon the ground
The rugged path straight

“Just here there is a little shade”
Everybody is complaining the old
Wind continues what colourless weather
All my light comes, not only through

You, but from you to see you in a dream
I come clear out of the mist the entire
Delight, carried me lightly out and in

Stop the darling mouth if I were separated
From you for a day I think my heart
Would move to it first flutter of delight




A characteristic piece of news your note
Only just comes the knock & the letter
But when you say now you do
Not part with feelings to wear them out

You are likely to care for the sight
As much after years as at first
To talk reason in the face
You are the best of all

Did I tell you once the best thing
Falling as they do on the mere asides
May is just here, beside
The truth of days, and days after them

You might have stayed ten minutes more
As children of light so it is as well to say




Telling, telling, telling, & never having done
Here an instance!  & the sweet briar is opening
Its leaves today as if it would take too many
Miracles – remember the letters, if they come

The book I ought to put in my pocket, –
Picked up in our lane “truly an illusion broken”
Said they might “love” me – they came
From you, they go to you –

But there is no wreck: harbour is found
I have done a fair day’s work this Monday
While the sun shone / brightest > brightliest /, –

What an unceasing delight keep alive, moving
For a week’s life now dearest-dearest the end
Of thinking and of dreaming is still new love




From my heart of hearts every pulse of it alive
Until I had your note this morning!
Between the white-satin sash & the spangles
I never guessed at all what love was

The rest for to-morrow one never can be
Too sure of such happiness I can but sprinkle
You over with yellow dust!  I kiss
You with perfect love I think softly to myself

No living man is worthy to stand in your footsteps
An hypothesis, of the “love” I “made” – yes,
Yes, yes – it was, of course that famous mist
You are with the snowdrop at any rate

When the wind changed for a few hours to-day
Go on dream of me: & love me as the wave to the sea




When you play at threatening without a particle of affection
To bear the weight of the “feelings” there is sunshine –
But the wind continues.  Nothing but law & love in them
That mysterious pleasure we have: in listening to echoes!

You stand on the side of the hill and listen
The very pleasure of it all is in the repetition
At the same moment with this your hesitation
At trusting in miracles that I never for one

Moment cease all that seems removed from me
Fruitless speculations how to give you back
Your own gift what you say to this little familiar

Passage in daily life detected a certain shuffling
Movement my instinct – instinct – instinct
Thrice I write and thank my stars




Is there any word to answer these words
Some feelings are deeper than the thoughts touch
Your good was all my idea of good –, & is.
I never had such thoughts of you nor/never>ever/,

For a moment a thought that you cannot be alone,
So, you/can>may/think that too, which is my dream,
My calculation rather and see the absurdity
The reason would be that you did not choose

I would not see Italy without your eyes
“To-morrow,” I could better bear the not
Hearing yesterday’s letters slip
By a hair’s breadth from the place

The imaginary letter of to-morrow could
Til to-morrow really comes and is found




So shall my flower’s eye be ruined forever
Tennyson was still in Town
He unaffectedly hates London
I will go out and walk where I can be alone

I will look in the direction of London
And send my heart there
The early “day of small things”
Talk and “stare” at the same time

Not one feeling is lost, and the new/
Ones>feelings/are infinite
Take care of this cold wind

She has been in the habit of going to London
“’Pippa Passes’ pretty and odd” she does not
Love me after all, nor guess at my heart




I have a raw astonishment I open my eyes
Astonished whenever the sun rises in the morning
As if I saw an angel in the sun in loving me
& lifting me up I see the dancing mystical lights

Which are seen through the eyelids
They looked to me like an epigram
I have written, written, & have more
To write let me be silent as on other

Occasions I take all, because, because, – because
& send you the thoughts which are yours
Now you are talking, now you are laughing
I was pure of wishes flow back wave upon wave

I am to forget today, I am told in a letter
Like a reasoner of the lowest materialist




All joy, to be based upon nothingness! –
All love, to feel eternal separation under
& over it!  And for life itself
All these passing clouds of subjects

At a signal from your hand let the world
Legislate and decree and relieve
The last comet made of macaroni
Talking the worldly idiom

There is no use now in talking
But I like it better as it is
You are beyond me . . . above me

I am always telling you, because always
Feeling the immediate demand
It is too sweet, indeed




The sun shone almost oppressively, – but now – all is black
I must go and answer . . . and now I cannot answer it
And do, for the future, let it be otherwise
When you are kept in London

Let the vow be kept by one line
The second dear letter comes close in the footsteps of the first
& the sun was shining with that green light
The very essence of the leaves, to the ground

& if I wished so much to walk through the half
Open gate along the shaded path
I put both my feet on the grass
The standing under trees & on the grass

We shall walk together under the trees
All those strange people <flitting> moving about like phantoms of life




 & only you . . the idea of you . . & myself seemed to be real
You may love me for my shoes
You loved out into the air
Is it eight oclock, or three?

Your flower is the one flower
By this letter’s presence thro’ the half-
Opened gate and under the laburnum
“One day walking by the trees together”

In spite of that felicity to remember
To remember and feel this
As vividly, as now

Siren island  to go out into the open air
So as to continue a full thirty yards
From you and the tower




A noise that you will not be able to call me
An ‘effect’ in the midst of it all, I took a long breath,
& held my mask on with both hands
I shall expect ever so much teaching, & showing

This thing & that thing, which never were mine
The walk did me no harm.
You are the end of everything . .
So long as I find you!

Who left a card
While your roses
Finished steeping themselves
In garden-dew

I do not for a moment doubt . .  hesitate
One may falter, where one does not fail





About unknown tongues & a seven year
Eclipse in total darkness I am seized
And bound!  the sun is warm, and the day
The vile wind most vile

The more I need you the more I love you
And I need you always
Shut up Shelley, and turn
Aside from Beethoven

Only it should be told and not written
Let him go to the full length of the sentence’s tether
Did not say briefly “yes” or “no”

Who came yesterday & left the packet
& came again today & sate here exactly
Three hours ground down in the talking-mill.




“Tell me when I ought to go away”!  (As if I could say GO.)
Looking as she said, “like a ghost”
Letters have their due effect
There is nothing to say

‘Poetry of the Million’ as if all this trash
Could not die of itself in an under-breath
To my under-breath “the present age did not,
Could not, ought not, to express itself by Art, . .

Though the next age would.”  If art is anything,
Is the expression, not of characteristics
Of the age except accidentally

One of the essays she is printing now,
Is full of beauty & truth
“Calm, cold, beautiful regard”




Which is a noise I am always forgetting
Help me thro’ the gloomy day with a light!
Feel my way in the dark and reach to-morrow
Without very important stumbling

I should hate life apart from you
I could not believe in “love” nor understand it
My year’s life spent in this knowledge makes all
Before it look pale and all after

Nobody was obliged to seek proof
Of it out of his own experience
The worst thing of all is to look back
On times of standing still,

Rounded in their impotent completeness
But you know, of this & all things




I understand, feel & the more I live, not ‘the less’
But the more.  And for the less, . . we never will return
It is too late for a difference there . .
How shall I think of you

Drive in the park near the gardens
The gate of the gardens, & feel
You are inside!  I shall remember
Our first day, the only day of my life

The only day undimmed with a cloud
You will not see me tomorrow,
Remember!  To win a thought!

With this day expires the first year
Short of absolute sight and hearing
Love of the whole human race combine




The bare permission to love for “a return”
Raised me above my very self, on looking
Back  in comparison with all the world
All words are foolish the “course I have taken,”

Somewhere among the stars . . or under the trees
The Hesperides, I should keep away from myths
& images, & speak the truth plainly
That you have lifted me, & of life,

Last year at this hour!  Rounded itself
To “the perfect round” that first letter
A miracle between the knowing & the loving
The secret aloud the character of the letter

I had borne the sonnet like a hero
Mr. Browning is with you




& tuesday, instead of wednesday!
The stars made out, & so drove down the clouds.
The weather is little more what sonnet is
The little sound in the head which will be intrusive

The sonnet was purely manuscript, & for the good
Of the world should remain so.  I had a manuscript
Sonnet sent to me last autumn by “person or
Persons unknown” a lady of the city . .

The essence of at least ten MS. sonnets!
I may walk in the street this is not
To be called a letter the first music

Only once in a week that one sees
A real flower white at all times lain
Shut till the book’s secret was out




What must you /have >think/ of me
The letter through the book corners
The full sense collects itself
So I will go and think over

It in the garden, and tell you more
In the afternoon my poetry is far
From the “completest expression
Of my being” let me write one

Last poem this summer as I walked
In the garden just now it is no moonshine
I was walking today what a summer
Sense in the air  & how lovely

The strips of sky between houses
I am thinking & feeling this return




Into life in the place of memory now if I am
To live it must be by other means
Having something to say about one
Precise thing.  Such things are on the road

As for my walking fast knowing what that
Flower is, knowing something of what
That flower is without a name this ideal
Rises to the surface & floats like the bell

As surely there as the flower
Which admits of shifting personality
& speaking the truth still

Having made your own creatures
Speak in clear human voices besides
After having made your own creatures





Power /of>&/ & sweetness of speech
The mark thrown /away>off/
However moist with the breath
When he sees the lips move.

Eyes to see in a reflex image
How these broken lights
Look strange & unlike
I stand by the complete idea

Guessed a little
Now let us have our own voice speaking
When you walk with me under the trees?
B: A: is, to take

Petrarch & Alfieri are the only foreign poets admitted
Criticism, swept back to the desk from the magazines





Only time to tell you why no more is told
I have known the whole painful side of <thought>
A change of feeling a different thing
One word for all; baffling human precaution

But in a minute of life after words
London is much warmer for the wind
Can’t get through houses and walls
In my open hand over the water

Out this fine morning the wind is cold
The Thames Tunnel I am all one consciousness
Of one locality it is probable as any other thing

Other birds of the air
Open your hand wide & cry
A distant voice to avoid observation and discussion




Derange your ‘myth’ the sun shone
Autography in the shop-window
Your little note was a great delight
Follow the good news of the walk

If I could, by some miracle, speak,
But my life to take and direct,
At this moment only pro tempore
Enough to get up a revolution about

Show me how to get rid of you.
The green under green & feel
The green shadow of /it>the/tree!
The difference of the sensation of a green shadow & a brown one.

The materialism of Art that love ‘lost’
In the new world all the dim light





It is all out of my head, now, for a moment
All bright things seem possible
When your note came the natural vibration
One more day – one

The literal truth of history I feel you in the air
& the sun but not in detail everything is at once
Too near & too far enough to make me tremble
Quietly as we are, you at New Cross, & I here

I want forms, /words>ways/, of expressing
Being under a charm you are on a hill
Above me where I cannot reach your hand.

Out of the myths we are near enough
The oldest painters painted one, ‘This is a tree.’
I live quietly now I did understand the question




To the letter, the iota . . . open the eyes
Mask-wearing for another year suffocating.
This for me.  No room even for tears.
Being an angel the simple experimental question

. . the short note, not the promised one . .
This writing upon the question first looked
You in the face walk rather with men
Than with angels! Could not be but that

After all, after all – talk, and indeed think
To prove very, very little . . and I danced
Birds singing loud and the day bright & broad –
A thick mist lacquered over with light

I shall not try to walk out in the heat even today
Statues have more power over me than all the pictures





I settled myself in the corner of our omnibus
A passenger to Greenwich!  Last night’s rain,
And this comfort of cloudiness
Now, listen.  I was not too tired to signify.

You made the proposal about New Cross
An omission of an ordinary form of attention –
I mean to say the great object.  As it is. –
The present circumstances greatest thing within the compass

The project into immediate this instance
Looking steadily at the subject
Your own views are – voice to voice

& scarcely do they carry out my meaning
In every imaginable way all will be well
In every point the certainty of hearing words





Let us go quietly away to live the days out worthily,
In particular stop at such an idea
Nothing shall be said of it now delight
At all times letter-communication

The proper word in my mouth is
This burning dazzling morning.
In all things & ways to the last available moment
All movements, seem easy in dream-life

Let us both think - in all of you -
There is just one meaning to all my words
Knit them into the web!
Some words to that effect

If I had had the shadow
The ‘obscurity’ when I talked of the light





[Simon Smith is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.  His fifth full-length collection of poems appears from Shearsman in 2014, 11781 W. Sunset Boulevard. Since 2010 he has worked on collaborative poetry and music projects with Jamie Telford, David Herd, Sam Bailey, Jack Hues and The-Quartet, Matt Wright and Evan Parker.  The Books of Catullus is forthcoming from Carcanet.   

‘[unfelt]’ appears in Blackbox Manifold in its full form.  Some of the sections of text were included in Telegraph Cottage (Seeing Eye Books, Los Angeles); Browning Variations (Landfill, Norwich); Scenes of Intimacy, ed. Jennifer Cooke (Bloomsbury, London). ‘[unfelt]’ was performed, complete, at Polyply 23.]

Copyright © 2013 by Simon Smith, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.