Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EMBLEMS OF EXILE, by THOMAS MCGRATH



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EMBLEMS OF EXILE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The hunchback in the park with halo of pigeons
Last Line: Which the beggarman mind accepts but cannot reconcile
Subject(s): Begging & Beggars; Exiles; Hunchbacks; Physical Disabilities; Ugliness; Handicapped; Handicaps; Physically Challenged; Cripples


The hunchback in the park with halo of pigeons
Expelled from towers by the bells of noon
Is hunting in the gospel of accident the sign
Of the time (foretold) When, king of this pageant,
All shall wear humps on their backs but none
Approach the elegance which fits his own.
Through the window of normality the eyes are bold
With the emblem of exile on his shoulder.

Or examine the beggar in the empty street
On whom the hysteria of midnight falls:
In the bible of remembrance he rings all bells
But the doors are boundaries of his exiled state.
A prince of loneliness and drunken brawls
He calls the hours of conscience. Morning fills
The street with supplicants and he receives
Their bribes for silence and for short reprieves.

All these are symbols of bereavement, Love:
The moon is naked as a shivering harp,
The crutch, though it put forth the green branch of hope,
The telephone, the letter -- tokens of leave.
And if I assume the beggar's or the hunchback's shape
It is that I lack your grace which blessed my heart
Before the war, before the long exile
Which the beggarman mind accepts but cannot reconcile.


Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org




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