Poetry Samples


from The Spoken River (2008)


What strange involuntary cause invites
The trill or airy trumpet-call to flute
Amid the juvenile light?  To suit
Whose pleasure or whose whim, or vacant flights
Of fancy, does this fleeting lucent strain,
This natural music, play?  Now, watch the stream
Of light increase; its broad, compelling gleam
Erase the peace of night, like burning rain
That sets aflame the trappings of our days
With liquid fire.  That life-invested pipe
Which sang in leafy camouflage, now ripe
Among an ether-haloed chorus, plays:
Forgetful, yet rejuvenated, song,
Sung out by one – shine out, evolve and throng.

Noon Song

It is midnight, though we can see the sun conflate
The dark and day, pour down its solstice spears
With rigour honed through morning-hopeful cheers;
Burning, as if caught in fierce debate
Within itself – wavering perhaps,
In troubled thought.  Decisive sparks deceive
Who watches close. Who cannot now believe
The lost and once-unnoticed plans and maps
That guide its course? But there within, unseen,
Clouded by its brightness, indecision
Rests – a source of tearful, cold derision,
An irony which never should have been.
Tracing tears, its rays recall the past
And stretch light to the future, pale and vast.


Can you touch the crystal-shining sky,
Whose wall of deeper blue belies the mist
Of which it’s made? Awake and shake your fist
In deference to the day, which ought not die;
Defy the dim, diluted glow of dusk
And fight the fading shadow of the dawn.
But greet the seed of tragedy, which, born
At sunrise, soon escapes its woody husk
At sunset.  Dark profundity embraces
All our shallow days beneath the moon:
But has this moment come to us too soon?
Will night erase this mask and leave no traces?
The sky now darkens. Thus have we assumed
That life by empty night has been consumed.

‘Aubade’, ‘Noon Song’ and ‘Lullaby’ – Copyright (c) 2008 by David Lewiston Sharpe.


from The Scroll of Lost Songs (forthcoming, 2011)

Unmeasured Equations

     I dreamt that you had sent to me
        A last, and moving, letter;
And neatly taped were flowers and mementos –
          Little things, which you –
     And only you, – perhaps – would seal
       Upon a missive, ending friendship.
     In pencil, with your name in full,
       Two sets of letters – qualifying,
Like a line drawn under life, the ending –
     Two neat sets of capitals,
       Which placed you in a frame; no photo,
But your thin lines, as if carved on some
          Old marker stone, which stood
  At some Lyceum or Academy:
       Your qualifying formulation –
As if you said, ‘I cannot be with you,
     Because of these two things – and these
        Define my life, and draw a square
     Along the longest side. And love
        Is not the theorem I would prove;
  Which passes through those energetic forms:
     Alpha, Beta, Gamma – Delta
        Being three which equals four.
Here are the letters you have sent, returned.’

      I dreamt that you had sent your letter
       In a file, with pockets
Full of greetings cards and notes, all my
          Unbroken chain of thoughts
     Which, stretched with long gaps in between,
       I sent because I could not square
     The circle of your face. Lines drawn
       Around a point are furrowed sand
Which winds return into a universe
     Of uniform sand-stars, in swathes
       And parabolic dunes – all curves
With forces uncontrolled except by time.
          The envelope seemed old,
  Although the dream said it was just received;
       And it seemed small, too small
To hold three pockets full of many things
     And one infinity of feeling.
        But there they were, my words
     Contained by yours, returning like
        The angles in this three-fold form;
  ‘Why had you kept them?’ – was my puzzled question.
     I tire of this tetraktys game;
        But this regained me, with your words
And little flowers, dry already, calling

         From a very present past.
            The mysteries of Samos
Are now clear to me, and stand before my eyes;
  The grand hypotenuse which is enshrined
          By our encounter, rests
        Within a niche of templed friendship.
  I showed to you my heart – your silent stone,
        Of many years, has shattered it;
I did not understand the fragments that I saw.
          And still I don’t. But now,
        The broken shards – sharp, pointed,
  Tapered to a centre – are returned to me.

‘Unmeasured Equations’ (23 May 2010) – Copyright (c) 2011 by David Lewiston Sharpe.


from The Scroll of Lost Songs (forthcoming, 2011)

Orpheus and Eurydice (extract, ‘Prologue’)

Some would tell of springs and of cypress, pale trees
  Growing by the waterside: source of passed life’s
Cool refreshment – or of the leaf-spark’s draught, drawn
                                                                             Eagerly once, now

Lost to old time. All see the Cypress: deep roots
  Showing ageless chronicles from the first phase
Into far horizons of life. Thought seeks voice,
                                                                             Out of the mute sleep;

Orphic tablets – memory’s work in gold foil,
  Buried with the dead, – are the passports lost souls
May interpret when they approach the well-built
                                                                             Mansions of Hades.

‘Orpheus and Eurydice’ (30 May 2010) – Copyright (c) 2011 by David Lewiston Sharpe.

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