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from The London Zoo (1961) and other early poems

But has no thoughts that I can understand. Not only in this land I have felt it so But on the Brahmaputra where Bits of the jungle floated down Black heaps upon the coloured river When night fell and the sun A red and geometric disk Above its square reflection stood For half a moment and then dipped: I heard it sizzle in the water. The flat and muddy banks, remote Beyond the miles of plashing water Diminished me Till, smaller than the skin I stood in I leaned against the rails and watched The searchlights on the licking water. The secret of diminishment Is in this sad peninsula Where the inflated body struts Shouting its wants, but lacks conviction. Conviction joins the muscles up But here the body flaps and flutters A flapping sail in a fitful wind.

In a Dark Wood Now I am forty I must lick my bruises What has been suffered cannot be repaired I have chosen what whoever grows up chooses A sickening garbage that could not be shared. My errors have been written in my senses The body is a record of the mind My touch is crusted with my past defences Because my wit was dull my eye grows blind. There is no credit in a long defection And defect and defection are the same I have no person fit for resurrection Destroy then rather my half-eaten frame.

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