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Two Poems

Moniza Alvi

Two poems after Jules Supervielle.


For a Dead Poet

Quickly, give him an ant,
a tiny ant – but for him alone.

We mustn’t cheat the dead!

Or give him a swallow’s beak,
the merest stone, a blade of grass…

He’s full of emptiness
and can’t yet understand his fate.

In return he’ll offer you a choice
of strange, intangible gifts:

a reflection lying under snow,
the lining of the highest cloud,

the silence at the heart of noise,
an unprotected star. All these

he’ll name and give to you.
Poet without a dog, without anyone at all.


First Days of the World
(God Speaks)

I hurry with the hare,
I’m drenched with the fish,
I hide with the weasel,
take flight with the pigeon,
I doze with the peaceful man,
and wake him early.
I struggle with the lame man,
I cry with the crying child.
And I marry with my light
all who move on Earth
and all who move no longer.
And I want this to mean
that everyone trusts in God.
The goat on the sharp rock,
the petals of light,
the clouds that come and go
like the mountain peaks,
all combine words
with such skill
they make whole phrases
soundless to the ear,
but visible to the eye,
language crossing any distance,
scooped out or rounded
with colour –
its serene eloquence
unrolling smoothly
in the vast apparent silence
where everything speaks at once.

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