by James McAuley

James McAuley

Does that wistaria vine still break in flower
Like grape-clusters transformed to lilac light
For bees to hover in? It had a power,
Then, to absorb all feelings into sight.
And the mute aching sweetness of its scent
Stored up the quotient of long afternoons
Where time stretched forward, empty of event,
Drifting-with bells, pagodas, pale balloons—
Shapes that changed back to flowers at a touch.
The soul must feed on something for its dreams
In those brick suburbs, and there wasn't much:
It can make do with little, so it seems.
Its formal home had crossed flags at the back
And reverent doubt up front. In equipoise
Between the brass cross and the Union Jack,
It could still quiver to the cheerful noise
That called upon all things to render praise.
Of all things, I liked best that tough old vine
Roping our side fence, offering my days
Clusters of hope that stirred the sense like wine.

Collected Poems 1936-1970

Last updated January 14, 2019