From ‘Joy’

The walls are wordless. There is a clock ticking.

I have woken up from a dream of abundant colour
and joy

I see his face and he is a shepherd and a piper and
a god

I see him bent by the gate, setting the fire, and he
is a fallen demon

I see him listening to the wind and sorrowing

I see wrath and misery, fire and desolation

A thousand fires in ancient London

And then the grass comes silent silent with the
hardest colour of all

The mirth colour the corn colour the summer
night colour

A thousand thousand summer nights pass

And children weave their daisy chains and place
them on the heads of fallen idols

He wept he wept more tears than there were days

And never changed the door lest, he said, we drive
an angel from it

And every morning he dipped his brush in wrath
and mildness

And out of him tumbled the biggest things of all

All of them righter than the rightest calculation

And truer than any compass

Yet where they were right and true none could say

And how they were right and true none could guess

But I knew I knew

He was an eye, and the eye wept and frowned and

The eye watched

The eye watered

The world was a mote in that eye

The mote was a world in that eye

And his brush was a blade and his tears made a


Sole partner and sole part of all these joyes he read
to me in the summer house where we sat when Mr
Butts came knocking and found us naked reading
as we read every warm day the poor man liked to
tell that story to everyone as proof of the wildness
of our life though it never did seem wild to me but
consistent in all respects and fill of holy sobriety
which looks to the untrained eye like wild joy

William stood then and made a deep bow to Satan
who had been watching and said you are welcome
to our garden sir

Satan had a round sad face like a waterwheel and
seemed tired and full of pity, he wore his rainbow
snake around him and when he saw we meant him
no harm he bowed and shrivelled to vapour

But Mr Butts came in and ate some grapes


Have no fear Satan, said William, we will not harm

Yet all about us

War drifted from year to year like the seeds of
weeds in autumn

And the looms made sails for warships, and the
furnaces cast cannon balls

Men trained their horses to run towards death

all around us in schools and churches and meeting

corpses marched their filthy regular steps

And men spoke about it and the words themselves
in pain, the words thirsty

For new life, the words wanted mercy

and in the midst of all this clearing in Lambeth
and South Molton Street and Fountain Court and a
torrent of such wrathful innocence pours forth,
such light that the violence staggered, violence fell

a spider a worm a beetle could approach it

but violence could not

an ant could find its children by it

but violence could not

And I tended that light

And he was the light

From PN Review. Reproduced with kind permission from PN Review.