"Where have you come from? What do you want with me?"
"I am the poem you have so often killed
with careless books, or booze, or accidie.
Be sure my ghost is with you: has it not filled
every blank end-of-chapter? waved and sighed
in every waiting silence - and been heard?
But this is all of me that has not died:
Oh my deliberate white bird."
"What do the words mean? I must understand
or cannot write." "Have you forgotten? How
shall I recall the bone I died-from, and
the image of my birth, who am ghostly now?
Was it on black or green field? or flung high
into the dazzle of air? or snatched and slurred
by the grey and leap of wind on what lost sky,
oh my deliberate white bird?"
"I have no picture. Was it a bird at all,
or (not a dream, I think) some girl, desired
and - " "Were they many, and so casual?
- to fade upon a ten-years-not-required
sweat-crumpled page torn out? Live only so:
Oh my deliberate (upon that word
the graining of an inky thumb) and no
more epitaph than a faint white bird?"
"Then you were dead even before I wrote:
lie still; I have destroyed your epitaph."
"Now all of me, with clamorous feathered throat
and arrogant wing, or appleblossom laugh
and else forgotten - all of me lies in wait
to blind you passing where my blood was spilt
in oh my earthly my deliberate
white bird. And can you bear the guilt?"