Right, time for some obscure poetry. Ever heard of A S J Tessimond? I read some of his poems when I was a kid, and felt like a solitary disciple for decades until the blossoming world wide web has lately begun to throw up more samples of his poems online. Surely a new book or a reprint is needed soon to record the growing interest in this overlooked English genius:
In the heaven of the god I hope for (call him X)
There is marriage and giving in marriage and transient sex
For those who will cast the body’s vest aside
Soon, but are not yet wholly rarefied
And still embrace. For X is never annoyed
Or shocked; has read his Jung and knows his Freud,
He gives you time in heaven to do as you please,
To climb love’s gradual ladder by slow degrees,
Gently to rise from sense to soul, to ascend
To a world of timeless joy, world without end.
Here on the gates of pearl there hangs no sign
Limiting cakes and ale, forbidding wine.
No weakness here is hidden, no vice unknown.
Sin is a sickness to be cured, outgrown.
With the help of a god who can laugh, an unsolemn god
Who smiles at old wives’ tales of iron rod
And fiery hell, a god who’s more at ease
With bawds and Falstaffs than with Pharisees.
Here the lame learn to leap, the blind to see.
Tyrants are taught to be humble, slaves to be free.
Fools become wise, and wise men cease to be bores,
Here bishops learn from lips of back-street whores,
And white men follow black-faced angel’s feet
Through fields of orient and immortal wheat.
Villon, Lautrec and Baudelaire are here.
Here Swift forgets his anger, Poe his fear.
Napoleon rests. Columbus, journey done,
Has reached his new Atlantis, found his sun.
Verlaine and Dylan Thomas drink together.
Marx talks to Plato. Byron wonders whether
There’s some mistake. Wordsworth has found a hill
That’s home. Here Chopin plays the piano still.
Wren plans ethereal domes; and Renoir paints
young girls as ripe as fruit but not yet saints.
An X, of whom no coward is afraid,
Who’s friend consulted, not fierce king obeyed;
Who hears the unspoken thought, the prayer unprayed;
Who expects not even the learned to understand
His universe, extends a prodigal hand,
Full of forgiveness, over his promised land.