Week 118: From ‘Ghost Voice’, by Roy Fuller

These honest, rueful lines by the English poet Roy Fuller (1912-1991) turn on the idea that the natural condition of human love is one of an unquestioning domestic familiarity, that what the dead would like to come home to is not fanfares and celebrations, but simply their old state of being taken for granted. If they only could come home….

From ‘Ghost Voice’

Why do we return? Not in the darkened rooms
Of rattling tambourines and butter muslin,
But as you boil an egg or make the bed
You hear us and answer: ‘Darling?’.

Yes, that’s our wish, after all, whatever ancient
Boredom or intervening cause of unwelcome
Would face us, for our presence once again
To be taken all for granted.

We don’t come in actuality, alas!
For we’re in a place that even cosmologists,
Speculating on collapsed stars and anti-matter
Couldn’t find more alien.

Roy Fuller


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