In Quietude

by Iain James Robb

 For Algernon

Afloat, on tidal difference's separated songs

Let nothing spare her mention, still belongs

That sterile tone mismissioned to my ear

What love's illusion balanced most when throngs

Of hummingbirds advanced, methinks, to hear her;

That was surely jest: I wished to hold her nearer;

Now that all is played and nearer is not near,

      She is not there.


Though she spars sunward only as magicians go

That flatter once, then separate their show

From waves of kelp we plough through when the drearer

Light of day strikes strobes; if backwards, still we go.

I think if we could careful vie to spear her

With each Lothario's or Magellan's blow,

Betwixt each winds in listing we won't hear her;

       She is not, no,


Not as the marionettes or distant playthings

Our last childhood remembered, not as rows

Of wheat the spirit assuaged on simmered day-rings,

Not as hers' millennial glimmerings on the rose. 

Mere plastic she, but periplast arriving

At some river brink Narcissus hardly knows

Throws more of spastic sense on all our striving

        Than all she knows.


Alone, aghast, ‘tis passed, still lovers keep

The clock-downed hours where clowning clovers sleep

Upon the diamond of the green mead's plough;

We answer thus, “Is this the same as now?”

It was the same as yesterday, we half remember;

We care not we are barbs below the bough.

Through each great lukewarm Spring, grey-white December

         Her spinstering vow.


We need not strive so; go where vanes once Lydian

Calculated minutes from the breeze's veer;

By Tropic banks our fathers claimed meridian

Whatever flowers sent forth, wraith fruits, she would not wear.

White strains adorned from perfumes' drifted memory,

And gowns the Vespers ply from snowdrops' keep

She would not hold from any action's armoury,

          And will not keep.


Preferring temperance to this false adorning,

To Southwards or to Northwards I will show

The face that calculates upon its lauding

More than she hers, since naught awaits below.

If calculate, let others claim emissaries

More than to my own state; I do not trow

Whether me to her, to her own gait miscarries;

           We do not know.