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The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1954]

John Cody

John Cody

Epitaph: Pioneers

Embraced and walling out life's pain
they peer out on the dripping glade,
unheeding the whispering rain
believing their vision cannot fade.

But over the years the creeper grows more dense
And the long grass slushes the track
The crawling moss reaches the fence
And they wonder now if they can turn back.

Slowly the sepia prints peel
And the trees move closer to the wall.
Then both of them begin to feel
that quiet shadow in the hall.

page 65

They moved soon after to the green plot.
The sun struck through to the overgrown hut
catching the vines lighting in a knot
and the door wired shut.

Figures in a Landscape

Everywhere a new mastery meets the eye.
From the underglaze of miniature blue
there flames away the first message strokes
of an achievement still caught in a view.
Here wisps cross-hatch and streak
the cloud seas of stipple islands.
Rubens in his sweetest joy never glided
this grain textured sky of river-sands.

Against the cut-out hills
—that are themselves dramatically back-lit,
the sea, as in a map, completely fills
the closing coast to surpass itself
in reflected roofing for all mankind.
The breeze swathes all around with a finer skin
Is this luminous perfection the child's find
in the Madonna's eyes?

From a Book of Hours

So bright May begins in a blaze of trumpet gold,
of days that could never be. The lords and ladies ride
far forward into the woods, for they do hold
Love warmly and as pageantry's perfect bride.

Beneath the shoots of notes they joy their loud
Alleluias and spread their cloaks to enrich the earth.
Those pouring dresses lie like clouds
or tulips waiting for the sun's caresses to give birth

page 66

to the velvet sighs that lie sweetening on the ground.
Love fills the gold cup of the trumpet hollow
until it flames in the sun and air around
flashing up the valley with the swallow.

And each moment will stay unfallen and gold,
frail at the tips of time's thin reach.
The lovers are gone before the touch of the cold,
gone to the inner fires of their distant castles.