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This poem is taken from PN Review 72, Volume 16 Number 4, March - April 1990.

Three Poems Les A. Murray

Major Sparrfelt's Trajectory
öland, Southern Baltic, 1st June 1676

Our ship was a rope-towered town
built inside its own wall;
carved Romans, niches, mantlings in gilt
made its stern a palace, a Popish cathedral.

That day as we joined battle
my sword swung so wide with the tilt
our mighty Crown assumed, turning
that my crossed right hand missed its hilt

as from lidded and horsecollar ports
the ponderous ship's cannon ran back:
shrieks mingled with bronze thunder below
- all life then split upward with the crack

of glare that stripped my rational mind
and left me in the one mind of animals.
...


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