The Archer

2Is level with thine ear, thy body taut,
3Its nature art, thyself thy statue wrought
4Of marble blood, thy weapon the poised wing
5Of coiled and aquiline Fate. Then, loosening, fling
6The hissing arrow like a burning thought
7Into the empty sky that smokes as the hot
8Shaft plunges to the bullseye's quenching ring.
9So for a moment, motionless, serene,
10Fixed between time and time, I aim and wait;
11Nothing remains for the breath now but a waive
12His prior claim and let the barb fly clean
13Into the heart of what I know and hate .-
14That central black, the ringed and targeted grave.


1] Smith discusses the creation of this poem in his "The Poetic Process: Of the Making of Poems" (361-62). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
The Canadian Forum
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © the estate of A.J.M. Smith. Included
with the generous permission of William Toye, his literary executor.