Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lawrence Durrell: February 27, 1912--November 7, 1990

A Bowl of Roses

'Spring' says your Alexandrian poet
'Means time of the remission of the rose'

Now here at this tattered old cafe,
By the sea-wall, where so many like us
Have felt the revengeful power of life,
Are roses trapped in blue tin bowls.
I think of you somewhere among them--
Other roses--outworn by our literature,
Made tenants of calf-love or else
The poet's portion, a black black rose
Coughed into the helpless lap of love,
Or fallen from a lapel--a night club rose.

It would take more than this loving imagination
To claim them for you out of time,
To make them dense and fecund so that
Snow would never pocket them, nor would
They travel under glass to great sanatoria
And like a sibling of the sickness thrust
Flushed faces up beside a dead man's plate.

No, you should have picked one from a poem
Being written softly with a brush--
The deathless ideogram for love we writers hunt.
Now alas the writing and the roses, Melissa,
Are nearly over: who will next remember
Their spring remission in kept promises,

Or even the true ground of their invention
In some dry heart or earthen inkwell?

Alexandria--many faint echoes here of the Alexandria Quartet
the Alexandrian poet--Constantine  Cavafy
the cafe by the sea-wall, where met, by chance or design
Darley, Pursewarden, Melissa, Justine
a night club rose--Melissa, an "entertainer/dancer" at the nightclub
a dead man's plate--Melissa's Old Lover whose family kept her from his deathbed
sanatoria--Melissa--TB, sanitarium
it's been awhile since I visited them
Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea

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