The Portrait & Other Poems
Imitated from the late sixteenth century
A presence is the absence of an absence
and therefore is a kind of absence too;
so, similarly, an absence is a presence
though nothing absent's present to our view:
when I breathe lightly you will disappear
beneath that breath my breath imposes, dear.
Beneath that glass your shape may tantalise
much more than when it's much less vaguely etched,
so empty spaces pullulate with light
when master craftsmen delicately sketch
the fragrant outline of some inner grace,
and so, at last, reveal your absent face.
'The child is father to the man"
The child still reaches out to touch the man;
the man still reaches back to teach the child …
How much gets lost in this unique translation?
Not everything, but almost everything!
The child full of enthusiasm for
the things of nature, for example … Till
the man betrays their living essence, when
he cuts them up, and so destroys
the undelivered child within as well.
So adolescence is the death of childhood
and furnace of eternal crucifixion
wherein three Holy Children once convened
to make a holiday of love's constriction
until a certain angel intervened.
John H.B. Martin is a poet who lives in London, England. He is a graduate of London University and Australia National University and has been writing for many decades. He has written four novels and is working on a fifth. His magnum opus is a six-volume epic poem. Most of his work is yet to be published.