Monday, January 12, 2004

What Delighteth Me

A carnival of senses counted most:
it was drinking with the boys,
the marking down of women for pursuit,
games of skill fought out on sunny courts,
the blaze of action in limbs or groin.
Tethered down at rest was like life lost,
passing time was ill spent with no company,
the itch of other people I had to scratch.
Candles guttering, dead flies in our wine-cups.

What a pleasure it is now
opening a new book I have wanted,
alone in a chair that fits my back,
anticipating delight, fingers cracking the pages,
the first sentences making the mind water,
no debts or business till tomorrow comes.
This is better than I ever thought:
pleasures quiet down, they simplify.

-- From "Middle Age", a four-part poem in Between Silence and Silence, Ian McDonald's sad, wise, illuminating new book.

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