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This poem is taken from Poetry Nation 3 Number 3, 1974.

Three Poems C.H. Sisson

COTIGNAC

River, deep as death, deeper, Avernus,
Red water of ox-hide, ox-blood, clouded,
Drawn across these caverns like a taut sheet,
What is down there, under the cliff edge,
Deeper than hell? Village
Lost to all time, under the sick arch-way,
The lost steps lead there, the life
Stirs like a movement of moss.

If I were to awake in that underworld, whom should I see?
Not Nestor, not Paris,
Not any heroic shadow, long putrescent,
Blown into dust: no woman
Caught my wandering eye last summer
Or any summer gone. The friends of shadows,
The commonplace merchants of ambition,
...


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