Week 326: I Listen To The Desert Wind, by Keith Douglas

In its naked pain this poem of lost or unrequited love may seem very much a young man’s outpouring, but after all Keith Douglas was only 24 when he died, something that one tends to forget, given the power and originality of his best poems.

I Listen To The Desert Wind

I listen to the desert wind
that will not blow her from my mind;
the stars will not put down a hand,
the moon’s ignorant of my wound

moving negligently across
by clouds and cruel tracts of space
as in my brain by nights and days
moves the reflection of her face.

skims like a bird my sleepless eye
the sands who at this hour deny
the violent heat they have by day
as she denies her former way:

all the elements agree
with her, to have no sympathy
for my tactless misery
as wonderful and hard as she.

O turn in the dark bed again
and give to him what once was mine
and I’ll turn as you turn
and kiss my swarthy mistress pain

Keith Douglas

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