Selected Poems 1940-66 (Toronto and Montreal: McClelland and Stewart, 1966): 14.
PS 8503 I75A1 1966 Robarts Library
1 Unreal tall as a myth 2 by the road the Himalayan bear 3 is beating the brilliant air 4 with his crooked arms 5 About him two men bare 6 spindly as locusts leap 7 One pulls on a ring 8 in the great soft nose His mate 9 flicks flicks with a stick 10 up at the rolling eyes 11 They have not led him here 12 down from the fabulous hills 13 to this bald alien plain 14 and the clamorous world to kill 15 but simply to teach him to dance 16 They are peaceful both these spare 17 men of Kashmir and the bear 18 alive is their living too 19 If far on the Delhi way 20 around him galvanic they dance 21 it is merely to wear wear 22 from his shaggy body the tranced 23 wish forever to stay 24 only an ambling bear 25 four-footed in berries 26 It is no more joyous for them 27 in this hot dust to prance 28 out of reach of the praying claws 29 sharpened to paw for ants 31 It is not easy to free 32 myth from reality 33 or rear this fellow up 34 to lurch lurch with them 35 in the tranced dancing of men
Fall by Fury (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart).
© the Estate of Earle Birney. This poem is protected by Canadian copyright law. RPO is grateful to Madam Justice Wailan Low, the executor of Earle Birney's literary estate, for permission to publish. Anyone wishing to reprint this poem must seek permission in advance from the Birney estate.