Lawrence Durrell
Cities, Plains and People

Once in idleness was my beginning,

Night was to the mortal boy
Innocent of surface like a new mind
Upon whose edges once he walked
In idleness, in perfect idleness.

O world of little mirrors in the light.
The sun's rough wick for everybody's day:
Saw the Himalayas like lambs there
Stir their huge joints and lay
Against his innocent thigh a stony thigh.

Combs of wind drew through this grass
To bushes and pure lakes
On this tasteless wind
Went leopards, feathers fell or flew:
Yet all went north with the prayer-wheel,
By the road, the quotation of nightingales.

Quick of sympathy with springs
Where the stone gushed water
Women made their water like thieves.

Caravans paused here to drink Tibet.
On draughty corridors to Lhasa
Was my first school
In faces lifted from saddles to the snows:
Words caught by the soft klaxons crying
Down to the plains and settled cities.

So once in idleness was my beginning.
Little known of better then or worse
But in the lens of this great patience
Sex was small,
Death was small,
Were qualities held in a deathless essence,
Yet subjects of the wheel, burned clear
And immortal to my seventh year.

To all who turn and start descending
The long sad river of their growth:
The tidebound, tepid, causeless
Continuum of terrors in the spirit,
I give you here unending
In idleness an innocent beginning

Until your pain become a literature.

Nine marches to Lhasa.

Those who went forward
Into this honeycomb of silence often
Gained the whole world: but often lost each other.
In the complexion of this country tears
Found no harbour in the breast of rock.
Death marched beside the living as a friend
With no sad punctuation by the clock.

But he for whom steel and running water
Were roads, went westward only
To the prudish cliffs and the sad green home
Of Pudding Island o'er the Victorian foam.

Here all as poets were pariahs.
Some sharpened little follies into hooks
To pick upon the language and survive.
Some in search could only found
Pulpits of smoke like Blake's Jerusalem.

For this person it was never landfall,
With so many representative young men
And all the old being obvious in feeling,
But like good crafty men

He saw the business witches in their bowlers,
The blackened Samsons of the green estate,
The earls from their cockney-boxes calling,
And knew before it was too late, London
Could only be a promise-giving kingdom.

Yet here was a window
Into the great sick-room, Europe,
With its dull set-books,
The Cartesian imperatives, Dante and Homer,
To impress the lame and awkward newcomer.

Here he saw Bede who softly
Blew out desire and went to bed,
So much greater than so many less
Who made their unconquered guilt in atrophy
A passport to the dead.

Here St. Augustine took the holy cue
Of bells in an English valley; and mad Jerome
Made of his longing half a home from home.

Scythes here faithfully mark
In their supple practice paths
For the lucky and unambitious owners.
But not a world as yet. Not a world.

Death like autumn falls
On the lakes its sudden forms, on walls
Where everything is made more marginal
By the ruling planes of the snow;
Reflect how Prospero was born to a green cell
While those who noted the weather-vane
In Beatrice's shadow sang
With the dying Emily: 'We shall never
Return, never be young again".

The defeat of purpose in days and lichens.
Some here unexpectedly put on the citizen,
Go walking to a church
By landscape rubbed in rain to grey
As wool on glass,
Thinking of spring which never comes to stay.

(The potential passion hidden, Wordsworth
In the desiccated bodies of postmistresses.
The scarlet splash of campion, Keats.
Ignorant suffering that closes like a lock.)

So here at last we did outgrow ourselves.
As the green stalk is taken from the earth,
With a great juicy sob, I turned him from a Man
To Mandrake, in Whose awful hand I am.

Prospero upon his island
Cast in a romantic form,
When his love was fully grown
He laid his magic down.

Truth within the tribal wells,
Innocent inviting creature
Does not rise to human spells
But by paradox

Teaches all who seek for her
That no saint or seer unlocks
The wells of truth unless he first
Conquer for the truth his thirst.

So one fine year to where the roads
Dividing Europe meet in Paris.

The gnome was here and the small
Unacted temptations. Tessa was here whose dark
Quickened hair had brushed back rivers,
Trembling with stars by Buda,
In whose inconstant arms he waited
For black-hearted Descartes to seek him out
With all his sterile apparatus.
Now man for him became a thinking lobe,
Through endless permutations sought repose.
By frigid latinisms he mated now
To the hard frame of prose the cogent verb.

To many luck may give for merit
More profitable teachers. To the heart
A critic and a nymph:
And an unflinching doctor to the spirit.

All these he confined in metaphors,
She sleeping in his awkward mind
Taught of the pace of women or birds
Through the leafy body of man
Enduring like the mammoth, like speech
From the dry clicking of the greater apes
To these hot moments in a reference of stars
Beauty and death, how sex became
A lesser sort of speech, and the members doors.

Faces may settle sadly
Each into its private death
By business travel or fortune,
Like the fat congealing on a plate
Or the fogged negative of labour
Whose dumb fastidious rectitude
Brings death in living as a sort of mate.

Here however man might botch his way
To God via Valery, Gide or Rabelais.
All rules obtain upon the pilot's plan
So long as man, not manners, makyth man.
Some like the great Victorians of the past
Through old Moll Flanders sailed before the mast,
While savage Chatterleys of the new romance
Get carried off in Sex, the ambulance.
All rules obtain upon the pilot's chart
If governed by the scripture of the heart.

Now November visiting with rain
Surprises and humbles with its taste of elsewhere,
Licks in the draughty galleries there,
Like a country member quickened by a province,
Turning over books and leaves in haste,
Takes at last her slow stains of waste
Down the stone stairs into the rivers.

And in the personal heart, weary
Of the piercing innocents in parks
Who sail the rapt subconscious there like swans,
Disturbs and brightens with her tears, thinking:

'Perhaps after all it is we who are blind,
While the unconscious eaters of the apple
Are whole as ingots of a process
Punched in matter by the promiscuous Mind.'

By the waters of Buda
We surrendered arms, hearts, hands,
Lips for counting of kisses,
Fingers for money or touch,
Eyes for the hourglass sands.

Uncut and unloosened
Swift hair by the waters of Buda
In the shabby balcony rooms
Where the pulses waken and wonder
The churches bluff one as heart-beats
On the river their dull boom booms.

By the waters of Buda
Uncomb and unlock then,
Abandon and nevermore cherish
Queer lips, queer heart, hands.
There to futurity leave
The luckier lover who's waiting,
As, like a spring coiled up,
In the bones of Adam, lay Eve.

So Time, the lovely and mysterious
With promises and blessings moves
Through her swift degrees,
So gladly does he bear
Towards the sad perfect wife,
The rocky island and the cypress-trees.

Taken in the pattern of all solitaries,
An only child, of introspection got,
Her only playmates, lovers, in herself.
Nets were too coarse to hold her
Where the nymph broke through
And only the encircling arms of pleasure held.

Here for the five lean dogs of sense
Greece moved in calm memorial
Through her own unruffled blue,
Bearing in rivers upside down
The myrtle and the olive, in ruins
The faces of the innocents in wells.

Salt and garlic, water and dry bread,
Greek bread from the comb they knew
Like an element in sculpture:
By these red aerial cherries,
Or flawed grapes painted green
But pouted into breasts: as well
By those great quarries of the blood —
The beating crimson hearts of the grenades:
All far beyond the cupidity of verses
Or the lechery of images to tell.

Here worlds were confirmed in him.

Differences that matched like cloth
Between the darkness and the inner light,
Moved on the undivided breath of blue.
Formed moving, trees asserted here
Nothing but simple comparisons to
The artist's endearing eye.

Sleep. Napkins folded after grace.

Veins of stealing water
By the unplumbed ruins, never finding peace.
A watershed, a valley of tombs,
Never finding peace.

'Look' she might say Tress here
With your fingers at the temples.
Are they not the blunt uncut horns
Of the small naked Ionian fauns?'

Much later, moving in a dark,
Snow-lit landscape softly
In her small frock walked his daughter
And a simile came into his mind
Of lovers, like swimmers lost at sea,
Exhausted in each other's arms,
Urgent for land, but treading water.

Red Polish mouth,
Lips that as for the flute unform,
Gone round on nouns or vowels,
To utter the accepting, calm
'Yes', or make terrible verbs
Like 'I adore, adore'.

Persuader, so long hunted
By your wild pack of selves,
Past peace of mind or even sleep,

So longed for and so sought,
May the divider always keep
Like unshed tears in lashes
Love, the undeclared thought.

Now earth turns her cold shoulders to us,
Autumn with her wild packs
Comes down to the robbing of the flowers.
On this unstained sky, printless
Snow moves crisp as dreamers' fingers,
And the rate of passion or tenderness
In this island house is absolute.

Within a time of reading
Here is all my growth
Through the bodies of other selves,
In books, by promise or perversity
My mutinous crew of furies — their pleading
Threw up at last the naked sprite
Whose flesh and noise I am,
Who is my jailor and my inward night.

In Europe, bound by Europe,
I saw them moving, the possessed
Fedor and Anna, the last
Two vain explorers of our guilt,
Turn by turn holding the taws,
Made addicts of each other lacking love,
Friendless embittered and alone.

The lesser pities held them back
Like mice in secrecies,
Yet through introspection and disease,
Held on to the unflinching bone,
The sad worn ring of Anna,
Loyal to filth and weakness,
Hammered out on this slender bond,
Fedor's raw cartoons and episodes.
By marriage with this ring,
Companioned each their darkness.
In cracked voices we can hear
These hideous mommets now
Like westering angels over Europe sing.

So knowledge has an end,
And virtue at the last an end,
In the dark field of sensibility
The unchanging and unbending;
As in aquariums gloomy
On the negative's dark screen
Grow the shapes of other selves,
So groaned for by the heart,
So seldom grasped if seen.

Love bears you. Time stirs you.
Music at midnight makes a ground,
Or words on silence so perplex
In hidden meanings there like bogies
Waiting the expected sound.

Art has limits and life limits
Within the nerves that support them.

So better with the happy
Discover than with the wise
Who teach the sad valour
Of endurance through the seasons,
In change the unchanging
Death by compromise.

Now darkness comes to Europe
Dedicated by a soft unearthly jazz.
The greater hearts contract their joys
By silence to the very gem,
While the impertinent reformers,
Barbarians with secretaries move,
Whom old Cavafy pictured,
Whom no war can remove.

Through the ambuscades of sex,
The follies of the will, the tears,
Turning, a personal world I go
To where the yellow emperor once
Sat out the summer and the snow,
And searching in himself struck oil,
Published the first great Tao
Which all confession can only gloze
And in the Consciousness can only spoil
Apparent opposition of the two
Where unlocked numbers show their fabric,

He laid his finger to the map,
And where the signs confuse,
Defined the Many and the None
As base reflections of the One.

What bifid Hamlet in the maze
Wept to find; the doppelgdnger
Goethe saw one morning go
Over the hill ahead; the man
So gnawed by promises who shared
The magnificent responses of Rimbaud.
All that we have sought in us,
The artist by his greater cowardice
In sudden brush-strokes gave us clues —
Hamlet and Faust as front-page news.
The yellow emperor first confirmed
By one Unknown the human calculus,
Where feeling and idea,
Must fall within this space,
This personal landscape built
Within the Chinese circle's calm embrace.

Dark Spirit, sum of all
That has remained unloved,
Gone crying through the world:
Source of all manufacture and repair,
Quicken the giving-spring
In ferns and birds and ordinary people
That all deeds done may share,
By this our temporal sun,
The part of living that is loving,
Your dancing, a beautiful behaviour.

Darkness, who contain
The source of all this corporal music,
On the great table of the Breath
Our opposites in pity bear,
Our measure of perfection or of pain,
Both trespassers in you, that then
Our Here and Now become your Everywhere.

The old yellow Emperor
With defective sight and matted hair
His palace fell to ruins
But his heart was in repair.

Veins like imperfect plumbing
On his flesh described a leaf.
His palms were mapped with cunning
Like geodesies of grief.

His soul became a vapour
And his limbs became a stake
But his ancient heart still visits us
In Lawrence or in Blake.

All cities plains and people
Reach upwards to the affirming sun,
All that's vertical and shining,
Lives well lived,
Deeds perfectly done,
Reach upwards to the royal pure
Affirming sun.

Accident or error conquered
By the gods of luck or grace,
Form and face,
Tribe or caste or habit,
All are aspects of the one
Affirming race.

Ego, my dear, and id
Lie so profoundly hid
In space-time void, though feeling,
While contemporary, slow,
We conventional lovers cheek to cheek
Inhaling and exhaling go.

The rose that Nostradamus
In his divining saw
Break open as the world;
The city that Augustine
Founded in moral law,
By our anguish were compelled
To urge, to beckon and implore.

Dear Spirit, should I reach,
By touch or speech corrupt,
The inner suffering word,
By weakness or idea,
Though you might suffer
Feel and know,
Pretend you do not hear.

Bombers bursting like pods go down
And the seed of Man stars
This landscape, ancient but no longer known.
Only the critic perseveres
Within his ant-like formalism
By deduction and destruction steers;
Only the trite reformer holds his own.

See looking down motionless
How clear Athens or Bremen seem
A mass of rotten vegetables
Firm on the diagram of earth can lie;
And here you may reflect how genus epileptoid
Knows his stuff; and where rivers
Have thrown their switches and enlarged
Our mercy or our knowledge of each other;
Wonder who walks beside them now and why,
And what they talk about.

There is nothing to hope for, my Brother.
We have tried hoping for a future in the past.
Nothing came out of that past
But the reflected distortion and some
Enduring, and understanding, and some brave.
Into their cool embrace the awkward and the sinful
Must be put for they alone
Know who and what to save.

Small temptations now — to slumber and to sleep,
Where the lime-green, odourless
And pathless island waters
Crossing and uncrossing, partnerless
By hills alone and quite incurious
Their pastures of reflection keep.
For Prospero remains the evergreen
Cell by the margin of the sea and land,
Who many cities, plains, and people saw
Yet by his open door
In sunlight fell asleep
One summer with the Apple in his hand.


@темы: 20, d, durrell, lawrence, english-british