Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE OLD PIER-POST, by JOHN COWPER POWYS



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THE OLD PIER-POST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I am the sea-ward-looking one
Last Line: Christ must be coming soon!
Subject(s): Death; Fish & Fishing; Jesus Christ; Moon; Sea; Soul; Wharves; Dead, The; Ocean; Piers


I am the sea-ward-looking one,
Covered with weed and slime --
"Fresh fish for sale!" -- of a row of posts,
That rotted by centuries nod like ghosts
To the ebb and flow of time.
Sea-tangle and sea-scum
Will the Christ never come?

Two lovers that met at this ocean-mart,
With kissings and clingings pale
Breaking the shell of a human heart
And tearing its bleeding core apart, --
-- "Fresh fish, fresh fish for sale!" --

Left a tress of shining hair on me;
And two sea-gulls that once were mates
But were wrenched away by the blinding spray
And the unrelenting fates,

Left a feather on me, a shining feather,
With sea-scum covered and scales
Of the mackerel bright they had caught together,
-- "Fresh fish for sale!" -- in the wild storm-weather
And the fury of the gales.

And the terrible ultimate thought of one
Who had scooped at the shingle of things
Till he'd taken the light from the kindly sun --
-- "Fresh fish for sale!" -- and to death had done
The light that the sweet moon brings,

Graved itself on the grey sea-mark
Wherewith with eyeless stare
I frown at the twilight and face the dark --
-- "Fresh fish for sale!" -- and with forehead stark
Confront a world's despair.

A shining tress, a feather, a thought --
With these I create a soul,
A soul that is not to be sold or bought;
Yes; I who am nought and less than nought --
-- "Fresh fish for sale!" -- have something caught
From the waters as they roll!

Yes; I, the sea-ward-looking one,
Covered with weed and slime,
Have gathered a soul to rest upon
As I rock to the rhythm of time.
Bright hair, bright feather, brain-disease
Blotting the sun and moon --
If an old sea-pier steals a soul from these,
Christ must be coming soon!





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