Cover image, Rock Pool by Patricia Roche
The Red Sea was published by Baskerville Publishers (USA) in May 2012.

The following three poems from the book are displayed on this page:

  • Lost to View
  • Saccade
  • Oswald Spengler Watches the Sunset

Lost to View

A range of clouds banked up behind the peak
Of that apocryphal
Blue mountain, with a wide, oblique
Burst of late sun
Projecting at the east’s receding wall

A film of what the day so far has done:
A wind that tries to scrape
The breaking waves up as they run
Across the bay
And shatter at the foot of Fluted Cape

In tern and gannet-printed veils of spray;
And trees the wind has caught,
Which seem too self-contained to sway
When they are blown,
And only move as a pleasing afterthought.

No one. No human presence has been known,
Surely, to venture here.
It takes one blackbird to disown
That vagary
And, whistling just a few feet from his ear,

To call him back again and make him be
The subject in this scene,
The one who is required to see.
Another day,
No blackbird with its song will intervene.

The spray will hang its veils and the trees sway.

divider image


They have no sense of what they’re looking at,
Unless the object moves.
(Or so he’s read; who knows if that’s the case?)
A painted bird’s an empty analogue
To the oblivious cat.
And it is not his still familiar face
So much as that distinctive gait which proves
The master to his dog,
Who frolics for him like an acrobat.

His eyes need movement too, but make their own.
His most fixated gaze —
On one small figure in a Bruegel scene,
Or on the camber of his lover’s lip
He worships unbeknown,
As though no time or change will supervene —
Aflicker with saccade, adjusts and strays
Minutely to equip
His mind to take in what is being shown.

And maybe consciousness employs saccade
As well, and flickers back
And forth, now in the world, now, briefly, out —
The way the gum tree’s canopy overhead
Flickers with light and shade,
So every leaf is momently in doubt —
Its faith saved by such intermittent lack
From being surfeited,
Its constant sense being constantly unmade.

divider image

Oswald Spengler Watches the Sunset*

The air is drenched with day, but one by one
************The flowers close on cue,
Obedient to the declining sun.
Forest and grasses, bush and leaf and stem,
They cannot move (and nor, you dream, can you);
************It is the wind that plays with them.
Only the little midges dancing still
************Against the evening move at will.

This tiny swarm still dancing on and on
************Like something in a net
Expanding and contracting, that late swan
Towing its wake, a solitary crow
Crossing the twilight in its silhouette,
************The fox proceeding sly and slow:
They are small worlds of purpose which infuse
************The world around with will to choose.

An animalcule in a drop of dew —
************And so diminutive
That if the human eye should look clear through
That globe there would be nothing there to see —
Although it only has a blink to live,
************Yet in the face of this is free;
The oak, in whose vast foliage this dot
************Hangs from a single leaf, is not.

* Drawn from the opening paragraphs of the first chapter of Volume II of The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler, translated by Charles Francis Atkinson.

 Previous Next