Paths in the Private Country

Paths in the Private Country

The memory in need
Is the implacable enemy of the creed,
Waits and watches its foe

The all-clawing frenzy on tip-toe;
Quiescent in the instant's repose
The thud of flurried gnawing years evoke.

The poet in his solitary moments, spoke
Those whispered words, memory's secret ear yoke.
His wares, his scares, ailments and balms

Suddenly at the oasis of his thirst, awoke
Transilluminating the hard wad of his private notes,
Clutching at the infant's murmurous innocence

The clear innocuous dogma of cries;
While his immodestly preened notes of travesty
Hark back; and the first poem playfully struck

Teaches him now too late the laugh, the critic's qualms.
Just as the poet had wandered away from childhood,
So will the child thwart the unspoilt man

And shyly, shyly he turns away from the poet
Coming in like a stray camp-follower to brood.
For who may ask which the supreme poet

The child's sweet ineffable musings disrespect
While language etherises meanings proudly sown:
The title in two is halved - one the art, one, lone.

And the man, memory's ill-begotten infant
Lurking round the corner, pranks the urgent moment
Or two - then restores the poet to the poem.

© T. Wignesan, 1957 - First pub. in "Diskus", University of Frankfurt-am-Main, 1960 (from the collection: Tracks of a Tramp. Kuala Lumpur-Singapore: 1961)

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