The Peacock at Alderton

By Geoffrey Hill b. 1932 Geoffrey Hill
Nothing to tell why I cannot write
in re Nobody; nobody to narrate this
latter acknowledgement: the self that counts
words to a line, accountable survivor
pain-wedged, pinioned in the cleft trunk,
less petty than a sprite, poisonous as Ariel
to Prospero's own knowledge. In my room
a vase of peacock feathers. I will attempt
to describe them, as if for evidence
on which a life depends. Except for the eyes
they are threadbare, the threads hanging
as from a luminate tough weed in February.
But those eyes—like a Greek letter,
omega, fossiled in an Indian shawl;
like a shaved cross section of living tissue,
the edge metallic blue, the core of jet,
the white of the eye in fact closer to beige,
the whole encircled with a black-fringed green.
The peacock roosts alone on a Scots pine
at the garden end, in blustery twilight
his lambent cloak stark as a warlock's cape,
the maharajah-bird that scavenges
close by the stone-troughed, stone-terraced, stone-ensurfed
Suffolk shoreline; at times displays his scream.

Source: Poetry (March 2007).

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Poet Geoffrey Hill b. 1932

POET’S REGION England