Poetry: Literary Lunch | clivejames.com
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Literary Lunch

Reciting poetry by those you prize –
Auden, MacNeice, Yeats, Stevens, Charlotte Mew –
I trust my memory and watch your eyes
To see if you know I am wooing you
With all these stolen goods. Of course you do.

Across the table, you know every line
Does service for a kiss or a caress.
Words taken out of other mouths, in mine
Are a laying on of hands in formal dress,
And your awareness measures my success

While marking out its limits. You may smile
For pleasure, confident my love is pure:
What would have been an exercise in guile
When I was young and strong, is now for sure
Raised safely to the plane of literature,

Where you may take it as a compliment
Unmixed with any claims to more delight
Than your attention. Such was my intent
This morning, as I planned what to recite
Just so you might remember me tonight,

When you are with the man who has no need
Of any words but his, or even those:
The only poem that he cares to read
Is open there before him. How it flows
He feels, and how it starts and ends he knows

By heart, the thought forgotten in the deed.

(Agenda, Volume 41 Nos. 1-2, Spring/Summer 2005)