The Night-Chandlers

Peter Redgrove

I

A double fugue for wings

The phallaina, the moth
The Winged Wurm,
And the harbour lights
Snaking in their busy sleep
In the nesting water.

And in the dark of morning
The spirit-candles passing over the water,
The night-chandlers on their way to work,
Fitting and outfitting, the wharfingers.

I touch that Self in her skin.

The water-rictus of the dawn ice
That just touches the shores.

My face felt clean as the flowers.

The Self was also as I looked up
An array on green shelves in that swaying tree.

The metal moisture on a pool of green.

I was Sir Gawayne and his elation.

II

The superstadia glide down the river full
Of their glum fisherfolk
And their hopping silver hundreds and thousands

Of fish-oil pulled out of the sea in its silver pustules,

As if the whole sea were oil, swimming
In a little salt water, silver oil
That bleeds gold.

Droves of children in the schools
All with the Self at touch in their skin,
The Self risen near the surface, fitting.

Black metal factory superstadia
Drinking the sea’s oil of fishes
In which the Self glows,

Or drinking earth-oil from the seabed
Sticker down and drinking,
Swimming in ether

Among the moths paddling the ethereal cold sea-air
And its busy sleep of crackling clean messages,
Crackling sheaves of radio and pearl.