It takes a truly great writer,
Of great courage, to turn
Playfulness into pathos.

This in response to my neighbour’s
Poetry, so playful, so
Emily Dickinson and then
Frost and Stevens and O’Hara
Maybe, and definitely Sylvia
(cow-heavy in her Victorian
Floral dress) yet such
Playfulness is not to be
Attempted lightly,
So dangerous is its profound
Effect on neighbours and on
Neighbouring causes,
So didactic and so elemental
In what it achieves and what
It leaves unachieved, to be achieved by others.
In short we must incorporate
Playfulness but take note of
This very incorporation, that is to
Say, we need a body first, we
Need a face first and strong facial
Musculature at that, on which we may
Fix and alter our smiles at will
(O so many words to part with,
O so repressed my effluvial,
Effusive selfhood),
And thus
The Dickinson of Capital Death
And the Frost of the pastoral epic
And then so many of them
William Carlos and Walt and Walcott,
The frenzy of servitude and the
Earnestness of heavy chains
And the profligate seriousness and
Morality of the colonised soul who
Clings to the dear language of
Oppression and feels deeply its
Solemn wound, unable to choose
And unwilling to recant,
Cantare cantare
La canzone della Salce,
O tenderest soul most
White-ready to be strangled by
Your strong negro-blood and
Thus ready to give birth to
The high tragedy of lived art –
It is in this elementary way
That we reach out to the
Peripheral tissue of the old
Mother tongue-in-cheek
And thus any subversion and any
Play is nothing but – nothing if
Not – a tremor in the heart
Hardly perceptible at the level of
The feet and hardly able to alter
The basic, the fundamental
Drum-tap-drum-beat of blood
Pouring out effortlessly into all
The living expanse of the language –
Mighty Leviathan that it is, to this
Very day, when
To mark my hand
I write.