nice hat. or collar…
Luttrell Psalter, England ca. 1325-1340 (British Library, Add 42130, fol. 212r)
"The world will start to breathe for him where before it had seemed like ice or rock." -Josipovici, Goldberg: Variations
Pictured above, Robert Duncan (born 7 January 1919; died 3 February 1988), in a 1985 photograph by John Tranter
The Temple of the Animals
The temple of the animals has fallen into disrepair.
The pad of feet has faded.
The panthers flee the shadows of the day.
The smell of musk has faded but lingers there…
lingers, lingers. Ah, bitterly in my room.
Tired, I recall the animals of last year:
the altars of the bear, tribunals of the ape,
solitudes of elephantine gloom, rare
zebra-striped retreats, prophecies of dog,
sanctuaries of the pygmy deer.
Were there rituals I had forgotten? animal calls
to which those animal voices replied,
calld and calld until that jungle stirrd.
Were there voices that I heard?
Love was the very animal made his lair,
slept out his winter in my heart.
Did he seek my heart or ever
I have seen the animals depart,
forgotten their voices, or barely remembered
— like the last speech when the company goes
or the beloved face that the heart knows,
forgets and knows —
I have heard the dying footsteps fall.
The sound has faded, but lingers here.
Ah, bitterly I recall
the animals of last year.
(first published in Poetry, 1957)
from Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood
[pp. 30-1 in NDP98]
in the court of Pluto and Proserpina
Évrart de Conty, Les Échecs amoureux, France 1496-1498.
BnF, Français 143, fol. 136v