SWEENEY ERECT - Sir Edward Dyer Poems


Poems » sir edward dyer » sweeney erect


And the trees about me,

Let them be dry and leafless; let the rocks

Groan with continual surges; and behind me,

Make all a desolation.  Look, look, wenches!

Paint me a cavernous waste shore
      Cast in the unstilled Cyclades,
Paint me the bold anfractuous rocks
      Faced by the snarled and yelping seas.

Display me Aeolus above
      Reviewing the insurgent gales
Which tangle Ariadne's hair
      And swell with haste the perjured sails.

Morning stirs the feet and hands
    (Nausicaa and Polypheme),
Gesture of orang-outang
    Rises from the sheets in steam.

This withered root of knots of hair
    Slitted below and gashed with eyes,
This oval O cropped out with teeth:
    The sickle motion from the thighs

Jackknifes upward at the knees
    Then straightens out from heel to hip
Pushing the framework of the bed
    And clawing at the pillow slip.

Sweeney addressed full length to shave
    Broadbottomed, pink from nape to base,
Knows the female temperament
    And wipes the suds around his face.

(The lengthened shadow of a man
    Is history, said Emerson
Who had not seen the silhouette
    Of Sweeney straddled in the sun).

Tests the razor on his leg
    Waiting until the shriek subsides.
The epileptic on the bed
    Curves backward, clutching at her sides.

The ladies of the corridor
    Find themselves involved, disgraced,
Call witness to their principles
    And deprecate the lack of taste

Observing that hysteria
    Might easily be misunderstood;
Mrs. Turner intimates
    It does the house no sort of good.

But Doris, towelled from the bath,
    Enters padding on broad feet,
Bringing sal volatile
    And a glass of brandy neat.