I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Monday, 27 January 2014

Whatever You Desire

Whatever you desire, he said, is yours —
a psalter circa 1397,
a smorgasbord of sweetbreads and a tapir,
a bucketful of eels, a smarter phone,  
a pool of moonlight and a star’s
bright insubstantiality,
a beech tree of one’s own, its copper leaves
swirling like woodsmoke in the autumn wind,
the hot and agile tongue of Cleopatra,
her slippery skin slick with exotic oils . . .

Though tempted by his offerings —
Christmas in every month, a cure for cancer,
pure opium on a drip, an apple tree
ripe with the knowledge of both good and evil,  
a gaudy frangipani and an orchid,
sweet madrigals, the music of the spheres,
a panoply of peacocks, rainbows, angels,
a Lotto mega-win, eternal life —
I skipped away, a nobody with nothing,
and felt as light as dust and free as air.

6 comments:

Ruth Mowry said...

I suspect that some of the things in your litany of temptations are things you love (and who wouldn't). The description of the beech tree (my favorite tree) is gorgeous. All the language here rolls off the agile tongue sensuously, beautifully. Anyway, it feels personal for you, at least some of it, because of what we know of you. This makes the conclusion more special yet.

George said...

Entertaining and well-crafted, Robert, with a perfect conclusion. Once you become a "nobody with nothing," you become somebody with everything. That, at least, is how old Lao Tzu would probably view the situation.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Ruth and George, for reading my poem and commenting on it. I am grateful. I seem to be fond of such lists and litanies in my poems! In this one I wanted to juxtapose the old and the new, the surreal and the romantic, the serious and the humorous… and hoped to achieve a kind of unburdened Ariel-like lightness in the end, after all the attractive (tho' some not so attractive!) temptations...

Bonnie said...

It really is pure freedom when one can push past the societal imperative to be somebody - the best somebody - and embrace yourself as simply nobody doing nothing. Freeeeeeeee!

Just read your most recent post (Jan. 29th). I so love how the Beatles dropped snippets of what they learned in India into the lyrics of their songs ... what a gift! John was the first to help me imagine being nobody with no exclusive religion too!

A great poem Robert! Perhaps, like John, you will plant that 'novel' idea in some young mind.

The Solitary Walker said...

'Freedom's just another word for nothing else to lose...'

The Solitary Walker said...

I think I meant 'nothing left to lose', having just checked up with Janis...