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Two poems from ‘Poems without Irony’.



Rambler, direct your care
xxxxTo this magnificent gift.
Dare, rambler, to make durable those views.

——More trust, believe, more debit.——

Lest the day come to see all trust is up,
Learn to speak newly over nature; build
Fresh castles for your chances to enjoy.
xxxxMake chiffchaffs pay to find a way
Within, from a world not edified since Eden.

Hear in the song not only expressive bird,
But a history in your tongue, to beat the bounds.
As a child skims the ways of ideal gardens,
xxxxSo can you then, so have you those
Adventures to go on with, grounds
Possible to their keepers; — outworks, follies.


By the side of the road there came a flattish sense
Of something too familiar—with a clunk,
Like heavy doors on classic Cadillacs.
Was there charlatanry in my confession?

The highland cow, sitting beside the fence,
A silent but a sedulous quidnunc,
Encumbered in her melancholy locks,
Was shaggy and sad as Alfred Tennyson.

Like a fanfare of silver harpsichords
The moon was in full cry on the black woods
And rang metallic round our haloed pates.

Confected moments in heraldic state
Stood, romantic and rigid, like tapestry birds,
Among the wet lamps—and fly away, now, backwards.

Alex Wong is a Research Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he teaches English literature. He is the author of  The Poetry of Kissing in Early Modern Europe (US) and of a number of literary-critical essays; for the Fortnightly, he has written on ‘Duties of care in the study of literature’ and  ‘The poet as “strategic” ironist’. His edition of Selected Verse of A. C. Swinburne was published by Carcanet  in July 2015. These poems are from Poems without Irony (Carcanet, 2016), his first collection.


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