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This poem is taken from PN Review 100, Volume 21 Number 2, November - December 1994.

Nine Poems Iain Crichton Smith

A Note on Puritans
There was no curtain between them and fire.
Every moment was a moment when
a man could sink into a tranced despair
or shake his heels to vanity and turn
with frenzied gaiety from that drying air.

Therefore their urgency. That fire glowed
along their blackened senses hour by hour.
Only the book they clutched so tightly cheered
hearts that might stop, eyes that their burning fear
could hole with flame; heads that their thoughts had charred.

Garden and gardener, book and reader glowed;
limbs crackled their sins; silks twitched in a blue flame;
a man's flesh melted in the mouth of God;
he lost his name to earn a lasting name.

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