The kindest poison

Just because I thought it a little unfair that yesterday’s post on Brian Howard didn’t really talk about his poetry, here’s an example. It comes from his only substantial published work, God Save the King, which was published in 1930. This slim volume was issued by Hours Press, the publishing house owned by Nancy Cunard, who nursed an unlikely, physical affection for Howard, much to his bemusement. This poem is “Entends la douce nuit qui marche” (that’s yer actual French for “listen to the soft walking night”):

I love the day, the yellow phoenix, but I love the terrible night.
I have two loves, and one is the day, the peace, the
brother-lover, the phoenix
he is covered with folding veils of silent fire
he sits and swells within a scroll of strong, harmless fire
that can fill the world, and that feeds me, so that I am the world.
This is the day, the gold food, my truth.
I have two loves, and one is the terrible night
the cannibal carnation, the soft storm
beautiful, blind and black, invisible, alive and dead
the carnation face, the lullaby, the kindest poison, the prison.
Oh loud, loud is the night, the flower made of mouths
louder than the day, louder than my heart.
The sun falls, and at once there swings up from the ground,
in at the window
the night, the drooping thunder, the carnation.
It is a burst flower, its blood has burst it, the petals
are waving fans of soft blood.

It is the mounting night.


  1. such fantastic expressions

  2. Pingback: Dress-down Friday: Brian Howard (repost) « Strange Flowers

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