Poem for Burma

I’m still sifting through today’s news.  I’m finding it more difficult to find reliable information – I fear the world may be turning its eyes away from Burma – so my next post about what is happening in Burma may be a day or two away yet. 

But this morning I was reading the latest issue of Poetry Magazine and, in the commentary section, found a discussion of a poem that struck me as particularly apt.  I was moved, though I can’t say why.  And I kept reading and re-reading it and thinking about what has been happening in Burma. 

“Missing Dates”
by William Empson

Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.
It is not the effort nor the failure tires.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

It is not your system or clear sight that mills
Down small to the consequence a life requires;
Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.

They bled an old dog dry yet the exchange rills
Of young dog blood gave but a month’s desires.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

It is the Chinese tombs and the slag hills
Usurp the soil, and not the soil retires.
Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.

Not to have fire is to be a skin that shrills.
The complete fire is death. From partial fires
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

It is the poems you have lost, the ills
From missing dates, at which the heart expires.
Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

Do with it what you will.

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