1. THE SEAFARER
Hang it all, Ezra Pound
there can be but one "Seafarer."
But Seafarer, and my Seafarer?
Allow, a tired man th' tellin
a all he's got, th' hurt an th' past.
Th' storms an' damages? Those I'll tell
ain't like none yew'v bin told.
It's brine soakt bread, an' moldy,
was all t' eat, an' th' old hull
can't count th' angry seas
hev beat its boards, bent its sail;
an' I'v stood alone, near topside down,
close enuf cliffs I cud touch 'em, feart
m' drownin, an' God allus meant for men
t' stay aground an' suck th' soil.
Fearin t' drown an' m' feet near froze.
Th' night wind 'd come up cold,
make a man's eyes int' ice.
I'd look int' th' sea, stare in th' sea.
I'd see faces a uncles an' cousins
an' fancy I saw th' face a m' sweetie.
An' th' faces 'd break, split an' grin,
th' laughin of a albatross in th' water.
Ice on m' hands an' m' eyelashes.
Th' whole winter, haunts wooin
me, gamin me in m' grog.
Storms, on th' hard bord we followt;
off th' cliffs, ice feathers
fell on th' stern; th' eagles 'd scream
Not any knowin
'r havin 'll make a man happy
if th' sea-smell sucks his head.
It seems mad t' th' solid settlt
with makin money an drinkin wine.
A night comes, snow from th' north,
an' cold ground comes thru m' boots.
Th' ground is too hard t' dig again.
Th' howlin an' bumpin in a late bar
ain't nothin t' a star on a clear night
pointin a way a man kin go.
I git a edge, go all restless.
They laugh an' gloat; I hunt a ship.
A man with hair in his ass won't stay
his life one place from born t' dies.
There's a whole world t' win
for a man with brain an' muscle an' eye.
Given any here, there's more,
much more, t' be had with a turn a sail.
Th' winner, th' rich, th' well-wed:
each has a wish he'd bin t' sea.
Holdin m' sweetie, I see a star
along her shoulder, white past white;
an' nothin but salt, water n air,
not beauty a woman nor beauty a land,
will hold m' head, will hold m' heart.
Th' lumps in th' bar smell no sea,
hear no waves grindin a hull.
There's a world burstin m' head
an' they'll never know it's there.
I'll go as whales go.
I'll suck ocean an' spit foam
an' be a eagle, fly away.
What'll I save, stayin sheltert?
Th' life is loand an' men on land
spit a lung or wrinkle t' death
or curse it away in blood n bile
on a knife's dirty edged suck.
Ain't no man lived always.
An' every big man eggs
on those who live t' say his name,
t' sing his lauds, t' lie his death
away with tales a deeds he done,
Revel in deeds.
days an' who cares what's won?
Th' winnin ain't what it was.
Th' big spenders hev baggd th' spoils.
Wha'ever's bin won is all a joke.
There's nothin to it.
Men die, th' world stays.
Women 'r riches? Worries rest.
Th' grave is quiet, th' blade rustet.
A man gits old, his blood gits thin.
They'r gone. All gone.
Th' best I'v known 'r buried bones.
Nary a one got a woman,
moves a hand, makes a dream,
feels any quiver left a hope.
If he poundet coffins out from gold
he'll find bones th' only hoard.
From FIRES: Selected Poems 1963 - 1976
Thorp Springs Press (Berkeley/Austin) 1976.