Ode In Honour

Evening is part of the jig-saw truth of her,
ply-wood ply-flesh, her insolent reply
blinding the ace with a straight shot to centre,
the woman's a delicate devil in twenty places
blander and blonder, tinder tenderly
setting the smiles on fire in men's faces.

On any evening gets you ready for dark
swathes and saves you for the magic carpet
spirits you anywhere anytime anyhow
over the bridges the tunnels the hills the foothills
the pools lakes oceans cataracts crystal floes
the mountains and fountains the antique windows of space,
the deserts orchards vineyards milky ways,
over pontoons and the silting tracks of moons
over the decks and the docks where the clocks
chime, anywhere anytime, anyhow, any fresh place.

Anywhere where winds blow and babies grow
where poor men wait for money in a row
where magnates buy and sell your heaven and hell,
anyhow whether the storm runs over the roof
or hollow tooth aches or gangrene takes the soul,
anytime when the sun splutters and throws shrapnel
between the legs of dead men and mad lovers,
she will be there to hold you by the cuff
to give you all her stock of luck or love.

two round lips and two round eyes
and two round ears and two round palms
and two round arms and two round thighs,
any child, any girl, any woman, any surprise.

by Francis Scarfe

Other poems of SCARFE (8)

Comments (4)

I am uneasy with the addition of a girl child to the list of women succoring the men in the last four lines of the preceding stanza... probably just me misinterpreting....
You are not alone, John. As usual, I totally agree with everything you said.
The first and last verses are conceptually genius. The inner verses, though, absolutely destroy what could have been an incredibly wonderful poem. I understand the concept of being swept off one's feet, as love or a magic carpet can do... but what is an antique window in space? Or cataract crystal floes? The reason I have never been a particularly strong fan of modern poetry is the use of such gibberish devices as these, where the author finds some intrinsic auditory/aesthetic value in non-sense words that have absolutely no meaning what so ever. And my lifelong dread has been that others find artistry in such things, yet I do not. I believe this is not artistry, but rather laziness. The king is naked, and I apparently am alone in saying that.
...setting the smiles on fire in men's faces... What a great line. Scarfe was born in South Shields, a fact not particularly trumpeted by the town which should be extremely proud of him