When I throw back my head and howlPeople (women mostly) sayBut you've always done what you want, You always get your way- A perfectly vile and foulInversion of all that's been.What the old ratbags meanIs I've never done what I don't.So the shit in the shuttered chateauWho does his five hundred wordsThen parts out the rest of the dayBetween bathing and booze and birdsIs far off as ever, but soIs that spectacled schoolteaching sod(Six kids, and the wife in pod, And her parents coming to stay)...Life is an immobile, locked, Three-handed struggle betweenYour wants, the world's for you, and (worse)The unbeatable slow machineThat brings what you'll get. Blocked, They strain round a hollow stasisOf havings-to, fear, faces.Days sift down it constantly. Years.--The Life with the Hole in It
How hard it is, to be forced to the conclusion that people should be, nine tenths of the time, left alone! - When there is that in me that longs for absolute commitment. One of the poem-ideas I had was that one could respect only the people who knew that cups had to be washed up and put away after drinking, and knew that a Monday of work follows a Sunday in the water meadows, and that old age with its distorting-mirror memories follows youth and its raw pleasures, but that it's quite impossible to love such people, for what we want in love is release from our beliefs, not confirmation in them. That is where the 'courage of love' comes in - to have the courage to commit yourself to something you don't believe, because it is what - for the moment, anyway - thrills your by its audacity. (Some of the phrasing of this is odd, but it would make a good poem if it had any words...)
Empty-page staring again tonight. It's maddening. I suppose people who don't write (like the Connollies) imagine anything that can be though can be expressed. Well, I don't know. I can't do it. It's this sort of thing that makes me belittle the whole business: what's the good of a 'talent' if you can't do it when you want to? What should we think of a woodcarver who couldn't woodcarver? or a pianist who couldn't play the piano? Bah, likewise grrr.
The Old FoolsWhat do they think has happened, the old fools,To make them like this ? Do they somehow supposeIt's more grown-up when your mouth hangs open and droolsAnd you keep on pissing yourself, and can't rememberWho called this morning ? Or that, if they only chose,They could alter things back to when they danced all night,Or went to their wedding, or sloped arms some September ?Or do they fancy there's really been no change, And they've always behaved as if they were crippled or tight,Or sat through days of thin continuous dreamingWatching light move ? If they don't (and they can't), it's strange:Why aren't they screaming ?At death, you break up: the bits that were youStart speeding away from each other for everWith no one to see. It's only oblivion, true: We had it before, but then it was going to end,And was all the time merging with a unique endeavourTo bring to bloom the million-petalled flowerOf being here. Next time you can't pretendThere'll be anything else. And these are the first signs:Not knowing how, not hearing who, the powerOf choosing gone. Their looks show that they're for it:Ash hair, toad hands, prune face dried into lines-How can they ignore it ?Perhaps being old is having lighted roomsInside your head, and people in them, acting.People you know, yet can't quite name; each loomsLike a deep loss restored, from known doors turning, Setting down a Iamp, smiling from a stair, extractingA known book from the shelves; or sometimes onlyThe rooms themselves, chairs and a fire burning,The blown bush at the window, or the sun' sFaint friendliness on the wall some lonelyRain-ceased midsummer evening. That is where they live:Not here and now, but where all happened once.This is why they giveAn air of baffled absence, trying to be thereYet being here. For the rooms grow farther, leavingIncompetent cold, the constant wear and tearOf taken breath, and them crouching belowExtinction' s alp, the old fools, never perceivingHow near it is. This must be what keeps them quiet.The peak that stays in view wherever we goFor them is rising ground. Can they never tellWhat is dragging them back, and how it will end ? Not at night?Not when the strangers come ? Never, throughoutThe whole hideous inverted childhood? Well,We shall find out.