Poem by James Stephens (1880-1950)




Skim-Milk

 

        A small part only of my grief I write;
            And if I do not give you all the tale
        It is because my gloom gets some respite
            By just a small bewailing: I bewail
        That I with sly and stupid folk must bide
        Who steal my food and ruin my inside.

        Once I had books, each book beyond compare,
            But now no book at all is left to me,
        And I am spied and peeped on everywhere,
            And my old head, stuffed with latinity,
        And with the poet's load of grave and gay
        Will not get me skim-milk for half a day.

        Wild horse or quiet, not a horse have I,
            But to the forest every day I go
        Bending beneath a load of wood, that high!
            Which raises on my back a sorry row
        Of raw, red blisters; so I cry, alack,
        The rider that rides me will break my back.

        Ossian, when he was old and near his end,
            Met Patrick by good luck, and he was stayed;
        I am a poet too and seek a friend,
            A prop, a staff, a comforter, an aid,
        A Patrick who will lift me from despair,
        In Cormac Uasal Mac Donagh of the golden hair.

 

 

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Written on 2023-01-02 at 00:00

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