Friday, 31 July 2015

Keith Douglas: 'This Is the Dream'

 Edgar Degas, Rehearsal on Stage, 1874. Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Keith Douglas quite often used imagery of dance and theatre in his poems, as in this mysterious and deliberately fragmentary piece, 'This Is the Dream'. The nature of performance can, I think, be both a distancing technique, and an approach toward another kind of intimacy.

THIS IS THE DREAM (Keith Douglas)

The shadows of leaves falling like minutes.
Seascapes. Discoveries of sea creatures
and voices, out of the extreme distance, reach us
like conjured sounds.      Faces that are spirits,

cruise across the backward glance of the brain.
In the bowl of the mind is pot pourri.
Such shapes and hues become a lurid
decor to The Adventures. These are a cycle. When 

I play dancer's choreographer's critic's role
I see myself dance happiness and pain
(each illusory as rain)
in silence. Silence.      Break it with the small

tinkle;      apathetic buzz buzz
pirouetting into a crescendo, BANG.      Until
as each scene closes hush the stage is still,
everything is where it was.

The finale if it should come is

the moment my love and I meet
our hands move out across a room of strangers
certain they hold the rose of love.

                                           [? Cairo, October 1943]

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