Excerpts from Written in Water


Andrew Mitchell


                 May showers in moist warm air, 

among wafted scents an atmosphere
of honeyed indolence; listless, without pleasure
or pain. Passive, receptive as a flower of sprinkled 

rain. Brown’s diligent activity affronted such luxury.

Few hours are these where body overpowers
mind and those three figures don’t come dancing
by: Love’s aching strains as slow melancholic lament,
the short fever-fit of heart’s Ambitions,
and demon Poetry which holds in awe the majesty
of long dead poets. These begin to turn the weather
of circumstance, clouds gather, thunder
of creation, distant, almost inaudible,
rumbles into existence. Vision disturbed.
Three cornered sexual banter, Brown’s
valentine, that she should be whipped
for flirtatious behaviour. Deep, desperate distress,
sacred love exposed to ridicule353. How he sat
with her, read Carey’s translation of the fifth canto
of Dante, love of Paulo and Francesca, yet 

in cold and darkened Hell dreamed pale lips
joined to a beautiful figure, sweet

union, warm in whirlwind flaw of rain and hail. 

No landscape for errant knight, withered 

as love forlorn. A desolation where hope
is sparse as leaf on spiked winter hawthorn. Gifted
roots of relish, honey wild, had garlanded his lady,
head and wrist, whilst she sang upon pacing steed,
made moan, wept, lulled him to sleep. Spectred
kings and princes came, death pale to warn
of thralldom. A feral melancholy crucifies
imagination, leaves it troubled in dark recesses,
mind sees the hand of marriage as adamantine,

yet still runs free. Psyche, unsung goddess
chained weeping on top of a rock
in her own world of circumstance personifies
a mind’s response to heart, a soul in making. Tread
soft in untrodden regions, shadowy ground
of branched thought, new growth in dark cave
of skull; wreathed trellis of rose blooms, soft, so
softly shake in murmuring breeze, a living fretwork 

to the soul, keeping itself awake to all anguish. Even
the melancholy fit, sudden as a cloudburst, or
as mist descends upon an April hill; temporal 

as all the beauty in a morning rose must petal fall
and fade. Take the soft hand of anger, imprison
it, counsel that even rage shall pass into nothingness;
that all is one, and in the confines of art are
consolations, where even the morning rose shall fall
to mourning.