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This poem is taken from PN Review 8, Volume 5 Number 4, July - September 1979.

Narcissus C.H. Sisson


Corpus putat esse, quod umbra est

If I could only find a little stream
Which leapt out of the ground over black pebbles
And wore a hat of light on every ripple,
I should not care for the imaginary
Problems of It and Me, or Who or Why
This corner of the world would be my mind;
What it saw I would say, if it were cloud,
Blue sky or even wind told by an eddy:
But what I would not see is this body,
Aged, severe and, written on it, REFUSE.
If that came back into my little stream
It might be I should wake shrieking from my dream.
To what? Ah, what is there for us to wake to?
When pain is past, that is our hope or pleasure.
But nail that nothing now, keep me in vain
Beside the water, not seeing any shadow,

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