Poem: Lines for a Friend 1948-1964

Writing just now about Mendelssohn’s sorrow at the death of his close friend, Edward Rietz, brought to mind this poem by Australian poet Michael Dransfield (1948-1973):

Lines for a Friend 1948-1964
“Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath.” – Tennyson
over before you knew it
misdiagnosed and done for
they cremated their error
you became some ashes a little placque a case history
paintings you did are lost also your poems
nothing but ashes in a wall of dead remains
you will not see again the way
the morning sun floods down O’Connell Street
perhaps you are the sun now
perhaps not
childhood was the salt edge of the Pacific
was the school under the old trees
it was soon after that they disposed of you
I went to the funeral you and I were the only two
there really the only two who knew the gods had gone
death and morning the only two,
damned because poets
over before we know it
we pack our lives in little souls and go
out with the tide the long procession
the ant the elephant the worker the child
even those doctors who stood around they will die sometime
their money cannot buy them out of it
we know what is to come a silence teeming
with the unfinished spirits good and bad,
and how we’ve lived determines what we’ll be
next time around, if time’s not buried with us.

Thomas W. Shapcott (Editor) [1970]:  Australian Poetry Now. Melbourne, Australia:  Sun Books, p. 210.

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