by David Gascoyne, 1936
The face of the precipice is black with lovers;
The sun above them is a bag of nails; the spring’s
First rivers hide among their hair.
Goliath plunges his hand into the poisoned well
And bows his head and feels my feet walk through his brain.
The children chasing butterflies turn round and see him there
With his hand in the well and my body growing from his head,
And are afraid. They drop their nets and walk into the wall like smoke.
The smooth plain with its mirrors listens to the cliff
Like a basilisk eating flowers.
And the children, lost in the shadows of the catacombs,
Call to the mirrors for help:
‘Strong-bow of salt, cutlass of memory,
Write on my map the name of every river.’
A flock of banners fight their way through the telescoped forest
And fly away like birds towards the sound of roasting meat.
Sand falls into the boiling rivers through the telescopes’ mouths
And forms clear drops of acid with petals of whirling flame.
Heraldic animals wade through the asphyxia of planets,
Butterflies burst from their skins and grow long tongues like plants,
The plants play games with a suit of mail like a cloud.
Mirrors write Goliath’s name upon my forehead,
While the children are killed in the smoke of the catacombs
And lovers float down from the cliffs like rain.