Arachne. No. 3
[untitled poem by Hubert Witheford]
A harvest shaken on the axle-tree
His senses dazed. Back to his pulsing heart
He did not harken.
His pinioned limbs, the bandage on his eyes
Did not compel his powers to the dark.
The seasons passed. Riding to execution
Around some corner, heaven knew which one,
Avid he twined the rags of phantasy
To jejune effigies of pain or freedom.
An hour chimes. Pangs of despair and pride
Resolve themselves in a more blinding birth,
The welling of a wound, a tiger spring,
Identity and how he is and where
And how, say each millenium or so,
He would awake like this and in this manner
Thrust back his hands and on this jagged nail
From the wrist-binding cord break just one fibre.
Here on a shipwreck, Ariel, Caliban
Ariel in earth and Caliban in town,
From their captivity they cry out their parts
With no curtain of monument to shroud
Behind them the empty night —
'Here we endure the love that burns the stars
And from our narrow stage you must decipher
The purport of that play or must depart.'
'Depart' their summons is 'back to the flood
That swamps the sun here and in Lombardy
Or else receive what we have here to show
of the incompetence of human action
And the dim appetites that build the rose.'