London I

Original Text: 
Bell, Julian. Work from the Winter and Other Poems. London: Hogarth Press, 1936: 23-24.
1            The melancholy verse
2            Sings to the waterfall;
3            Wring writing harsh and worse,
4            The jarring beauties fall.
5            Throw in your reserves,
6            The roughest hold of the brain,
7            And Hopkin's line serves
8            To mitigate our pain.
9            The torture and the storm,
10            Love, revolt, defeat,
11            In the aptly-turning form
12            Felicitously meet.
13            Keat's ghost walks;
14            Pains no line can catch
15            Escape the language that the poet talks,
16            Nor meet the misery in a perfect match.
17So I shall never in verse put down
18The wringing horror of this town,
19A vision hard to repeat
20Of a long unhappy street.
21Your hands look chafed and torn,
22Your face is greyed and worn,
23Unhappier those eyes:
24I think now how days press
25With hard events and emptiness,
26Cook and clean, carpets to shake,
27Rooms to dust, beds to make,
28No time, no space,
29They change a face.
30We are half young-- our sentences run on
31For unknown lengths still--we must settle down,
32Grow more used to this lonely town,
33Work, wash, sew, mend,
34With no assurance of an end;
35So all others live, and we
36Shall not miss their certainty.
37The lost battle, the long defeat,
38Shine with forked lightening: unhappiness in love
39Marches excitement : there lives change or move,
40Not like the slow depression of the street.
41Verse tinkles waterfalls; I thought of the falling
42Of blocks of dry, rough stone; of coarse large coke;
43With a dry noise, heavy cataracts pouring
44On numbed grey fingers, cleaned where the skin broke;
45Before the pink-white tear caked dust-blood black;
46And the slithering fall of stuff to be pushed back.
47In town there is only the sky: I looked up there,
48Saw wind and whirl of gulls and of clouds in air,
49An answering image of you; the swirling, high
50Grace of flight, and the tumult of the sky:
51I have always thought of you with birds and wind
52As a match to your rapid beauty and distant mind,
53As I have always loved the plough and down.
54Now we must lead the long lives of this town,
55Daily work for daily bread
56Until we win fame or an old age pension
57Or get shot down in a revolution:
58I prefer absence and trees
59To the choice I make of these.
60No help now: this town could do
61With some poison gas and a bomb or two.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh
RPO Edition: 
2009