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This poem is taken from Poetry Nation 4 Number 4, 1975.On a Friend Dying
I should speak in the past tense
But do not, for it seems
What was has an existence,
If only of images.
Remains a scene as still
As water, as fragile,
Floating a ghostly
Summer of long late-lit
Evenings in a dingy street.
A swung glow of the Marquis
Door seen from Rathbone Place.
And there remains a large room full of flowers
Imaged on canvases, the real ones still in the garden,
And books and objects I've known for thirty years.
Unknown to me I am taking a final leave of them
And the woman no longer young but more beautiful
Than the young girl had been, who held all these together.
Yet that web woven over so long shall not unravel,
Though the lives and bonds disperse like the furniture
To disassociation. Eternity, when one thinks of it,
Exists in what has been, there residing.
In what's done and can't be changed is immortality,
Though I may not be long remembering.
The summer of pilotless planes,
Of searchlit nights and soft,
When once upon a scare
Together we ran out
Into the naked garden
High over Archway, and
The warm leaves of laurel
Trembled in no wind.
Larger in death, mythical, those figures,
Yankel Adler, David Archer, Colquhoun and MacBryde;
Not failed gods, because our gods were failures
Standing in broken shoes with half-pints of Scotch ale.
Now would I say that it is nine o'clock at the Wheatsheaf,
That it will not be long before the place is full.
Who was it who said
Friends are born, not made?
I remember, as now
You no longer do,
Across a long room;
After the eyes met
Before we had spoken
What had always been.
i .m. Julian Orde Abercrombie 1917-74
This poem is taken from Poetry Nation 4 Number 4, 1975.