Sunday, 26 June 2011

A poem by Lars Gustafsson, this time from 'The Wright Brothers pay a visit to Kitty Hawk' (1968)


The small tin-boxes that contain screws.
The small tins with their worn-off trade marks,

originally intended to contain something else,
now contain screws. And nothing else.

A late autumn day, in a strong gale the magpies come
a whole dozen, flapping at the roadside.

The philosopher Plato, aged like a primary teacher,
in an unwashed jersey, considers them dispassionately

and knows that the archaic language they speak
is a dialect of the Ionic. Incomprehensible.

The world of ideas does not exist in rainy weather.

Once I too had a form to see with
and then understood the visible world.

One of these tins, small tin-boxes, has a picture on it,
one in fact of a gold medal in Amsterdam.

It now contains screws. Nothing but screws.

What other birds do I know of?
The wren. The wren of soundless stealth.

In the dusk between the hills and the houses.
Pauses for a moment at the edge of the ditch.

Utterly silent in flight.

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