the monastery on the hillside there
was established in the twelfth century
it was used as a detention centre
by the nazis during the occupation
was turned into a casino after the war
and is now a psychiatric institution
actually I made all that up
except for the latter
trust me – I’m a poet
I employ colourful matter
to establish a truth
or at least a particle
a poet must concern himself
with everything and all
from the nature of the soul
to hell’s darkest hole
and he must take risks
soothe troubled minds
and not just his
but all mankind’s
and that is the truth
more than a particle
In wine and verse I bargain with the night,
though wine is once again the favoured option.
The thoughts of men in print now rarely charm,
and tend to bring less sleep than irritation.
As for love, she may as well have been
a dream that I once dreamed in former days.
The pleasures of the flesh and of the heart
by lumps and bumps and groans have been outweighed,
Tonight as stars grow dimmer one by one,
no bright new suns have blazed into my view,
and as for those I marvelled at in youth,
old passions these, I do not now pursue.
From two consuming spheres I seldom stray,
dull circles that I trace to end each day,
sad orbits that bring neither peace nor light,
in wine and verse I bargain with the night.
[Note: The opening and closing lines clearly echo Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night”. This is the second time this has happened. I’ll let it stand as homage to a poem that got itself into my bones. EB]