Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LOWLANDS LOW, by KENNETH LESLIE



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LOWLANDS LOW, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What can be better than to let the screen of years
Last Line: Remembering.
Subject(s): Boys; Death - Children; Past; Sailing & Sailors; Sea; Death - Babies; Seamen; Sails; Ocean


What can be better than to let the screen of years
fold up and leave a boy,
a fireplace and a man there singing?
The last light dying from the coals, the last note dying
in the ears of the song-captured idolater. ...
remembering days that shall not be again
except this way, remembering,
letting the image enter well-used doors,
the smell of Harris tweed and English leather,
the smell of "Old Chum" smoking,
the clean aroma of a man.
No words to hint the quality of his voice,
the salt-edge in it, the sweet and vibrant sorrow.

No way to hint the quality of his eyes,
set bold and challenging, yet queerly shy,
dark mirrors of a boy's unslaked delight
in all things various and strange,
in all the heaped-up helping life had served him.

His song, The Lowlands Low, not mouthed from a book
but taken alive and terrible from the sea. ...
to remember the thickening in my throat
when "his shipmates picked him up and on the deck he died,"
the brave boy, the betrayal, the irreparable loss,
my father's eyes half-closed upon the last long note,
"and they sank him in the Lowlands Low!"

The screen of years unfolds again
and pushes this strange semblance of myself
into this strange semblance of my city.
He, too, is gone the way of the sea
and is lost in the Lowlands Low. ...
and I am left here with no token, no watch or knife or book
by which to call him back,
but I remember here in my throat his song,
remembering.





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