In Memoriam: J. P. M., 1976


Sleep sound here, brother, by your tranquil bay!
What can the tongue we both served now express
Other than this? All that is left to say
Is loss and emptiness;

Empty as ocean stretches towards the pole
Beyond this island which you loved, my friend,
This island where at last you reached your goal
Of landfall at land’s-end;

This island which your lucid poet’s eye
Made living verse: wildflower and sedge and tree
And creatures of its bushland, beach and sky
Took root in poetry,

Until a world to which your poet’s mouth
Gave being and utterance, country of the heart,
Land of the Holy Spirit in the South,
Became its counterpart.

It was my island too, my boyhood’s home,
My ‘land of similes’; from all you gave,
This I hold close and cherish, as I come
To your untimely grave.

Where the great mount’s apocalyptic beast
Now guards your bones and watches from the height,
Fixing his lion gaze towards the east
For the return of light,

Standing on this last promontory of time,
I match our spirits, the laggard and the swift;
Though we shared much beside the gift of rhyme,
Yours was the surer gift.

Your lamp trimmed, full of oil, you went before,
Early to taste the Bridegroom’s feast of song;
Wait for me, friend, till I too reach that door;
I shall not keep you long.

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