DEATH BY WATER
Lovers will vaunt the pains of Lawrence, threaten
a death to out-flame Latimer, the sky
one fog and thunder from their throes: they lie.
Their fires are tame and captive, soon forgotten
when the cold flesh learns comfort, souls are dry.
Air is not lighter than the vows it carries,
for the untortured living tongue vibrates
as butterfly as they: one lie creates
the Venus-trap, the words that Vulcan Ares,
the folding-out of horn or ivory gates.
Gatepost or stake or tree is earth-embedded;
the lust of pyres, the airy poem, yields
to the slow seeding of the worm-bred fields.
Worm in the blood, and of the blood, be guided:
dreams and the ardent boast are tinsel shields.
The death is in the deep: the mateless ocean,
the river's nunnery, the brooding well -
Phlebas, Ophelia, Truth. O asphodel,
witness how many, drunk upon compassion,
died in the dew of one white mercy-bell.