Not Pastoral Enough

                         homage to William Empson

It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,
Landing every poem like a fish.
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles.
 
Glittering scales require the deadly tolls
Of net and knife. Scales fall to relish.
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls.
 
Yet languages are apt to miss on souls
If reason only guts them. Applying the wish,
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles,
 
Ignores the fact that poems have two poles
That must be opposite. Hard then to finish
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,
 
Without a sense of lining up for doles
From other kitchens that give us the garnish:
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles.
 
And this (forgive me) is like carrying coals
To Sheffield. Irrelevance betrays a formal anguish.
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,
“Unhuman forms must not assert their roles”.

Veronica Forrest-Thomson, "Not Pastoral Enough" from Collected Poems and Translations. Copyright © 1971 by Veronica Forrest-Thomson.  Reprinted by permission of Allardyce, Barnett, Publishers.
Source: Collected Poems (Shearsman Books, 2008)
More Poems by Veronica Forrest-Thomson