Friday, May 01, 2009

784. Brueghel In Naples - Diane Abse

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: W. H Auden

Ovid would never have guessed how far
and father's notion about wax melting, bah!
It's ice up there. Freezing.
Soaring and swooping over solitary altitudes
I was breezing along (a record I should think)
when my wings began to moult not melt.
These days, workmanship, I ask you.

There's a mountain down there on fire
and I'm falling, falling away from it.
Phew, the sun's on the horizon
or am I upside down?

Great Bacchus, the sea is rearing
up. Will I drown? My white legs
the last to disappear? (I have no trousers on)
A little to the left the ploughman,
a little to the right a galleon,
a sailor climbing the rigging,
a fisherman casting his line,
and now I hear a shepherd's dog barking.
I'm that near.

Lest I have no trace
but a few scattered feathers on the water
show me your face, sailor,
look up fisherman,
look this way, shepherd,
turn around, ploughman.
Raise the alarm! Launch a boat!!

My luck. I'm seen
only by a jackass of an artist
interested in composition, in the green
tinge of the sea, in the aesthetics
of disaster––not in me.

I drown, bubble by bubble,
(Help, Save me!)
while he stands ruthlessly
before the canvas, busy busy,
intent on becoming an Old Master.