by Gavin Bantock
Our days are haunted with dragons. We have heard
bewildering sounds we cannot explain away.
We have seen shadows in the sky and blurred
forms moving across bare wooden floors.
We have tried to dismiss these things as absurd
day-dreams, but something is there: we may
call them dragons for want of a better word.
Understand me: these are not what knights would slay
for the love of maidens standing on distant shores.
These are here now: I encountered one today,
or what I thought was one: my house swayed
for a full minute; and though we commonly say
such things are earthquakes, who knows what roars
under the ground? Who knows why mountains sway?
When a clock stops, we think we know the cause;
but no-one knows what god the clock obeyed.
And when the wind blows unlatched doors
silently open, we wonder who is there;
but nobody enters, and we somehow pause
in our conversations, because we feel afraid
something is creeping round the room on bandaged claws.
We sometimes love; and sometimes, when betrayed,
we feel black monster-passions flame and tear
the lining of our minds. The white-hot blade
of longing is a dragon-founded sword;
and jealousy, anger and pain will never fade,
and nothing will diminish our despair,
until these creatures end their dragonnade.
A genius at the keyboard can hardly bear
the clanging dragon sounding in every chord;
and master-painters half-insanely stare
at the rainbow-worms of oil that seem
to writhe on their palettes like a gorgon's hair.
A grey-haired poet weeps over the vast hoard
of bitter words entrusted to his care.
Dragons are the world's masters: the lord
of all creation is a dragon, whose scheme
is to stop us somehow from becoming bored
by this miracle-life which first stirred
in the sea-kingdoms. For centuries it's warred
against men who have forgotten how to dream:
it longs for simple human wonder to be restored.
For without dragons, the courageous gleam
in the eyes of men will soon be slurred
over with the smoke of cities and the steam
of whining turbines out of control. And grey
stones will grow in our brains; and the theme
of our last song will perish like a white bird
lost in wild seas where petrels used to scream.