Richard Greene, Republic of Solace: Poems 1984-1994 (St. John's, NF: Breakwater, 1994): 16-19. PS 8563 R3836R47 Robarts Library
2No one has lived here
3Or left more than a shadow
4Among shrubs and stones.
5The hill falls to water
6And a carious rock:
7Geology is a study of the spirit,
8One place forming another
9In the migrations of a continent.
10I am always here
11On a hillside of quartz and juniper,
12A ridge over water
13Where the whales blow and dive,
14And the grounded ice-bergs topple
15In a smoke of gulls.
16This place is twenty years of me,
17The stark coastland of a question.
18Who dares learn such emptiness,
19Contending with thoughts of ocean,
20Or interiors yet a wilderness?
21And learning, who dares forget?
22The world is more populous than the soul:
24Europe will have a radioactive Summer
25And tumours subsequently.
26This morning as I prayed
27Americans flew past in a transport plane
28Perhaps too full of bombs for greeting.
29I listen to my breath
30And the machine that eats motor-cars
32They find nutrition in our old manoeuvres.
33I am still listening to my breath,
34I think that I am here.
36And what relatives have you here
37For you to hew yourself
38A tomb in this place?
39See, Yahweh hurls you down,
40Down with a single throw;
41Then with a strong grip he grips you
42And wins you up into a ball
43And hurls you into an immense country.
44There you will die
45O my immense country of no place,
46There is nowhere as strange as now.
47I am alone in this acreage of breath,
48Landscape of spruce, fir, clover, and rock,
49A lifetime expiring somewhere worlds away.
1] Utopia: "nowhere" (Latin). Back to Line
23] Soho: an entertainment district in London, England. Back to Line
35] Isaiah 22: 16-18: "What hast thou here? And whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as hee that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graueth an habitation for himselfe in a rocke? Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. He will surely violently turn and toss thee a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory the shame of thy lord's house." Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
Copyright © Richard Greene and used by permission of the poet.
Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from him in writing.