The Tree of Idleness - Lawrence Durrell

March 27 2022 · poems lawrence-durrell

I shall die one day I suppose
In this old Turkish house I inhabit:
A ragged banana-leaf outside and here
On the sill in a jam-jar a rock-rose.

Perhaps a single pining mandolin
Throbs where cicadas have quarried
To the heart of all misgivings and there
Scratches on silence like a pet locked in.

Will I be more or less dead
Than the village in memory’s dispersing
Springs, or in some cloud of witness see,
Looking back, the selfsame road ahead?

By the moist clay of a woman’s wanting,
After the heart has stopped its fearful
Gnawing, will I descry between
This life and that another sort of haunting?

No: the card-players in tabs of share
Will play on: the aerial springs
Hiss: in bed lying quiet under kisses
Without signature, with all my debts unpaid

I shall recall nights of squinting rain,
Like pig-iron on the hills: bruised
Landscapes of drumming cloud and everywhere
The lack of someone spreading like a stain.

Or where brown fingers in the darkness move,
Before the early shepherds have awoken,
Tap out on sleeping lips with these same
Worn typewriter keys a poem imploring

Silence of lips and minds which have not spoken.

From the collection The Tree of Idleness (1955)

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