Muir Holburn - Selected Poems

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I have a craving body

Which, day and night, will squawk;

Likewise I have a spirit

And hand in hand they walk–

Then one are they. Yet often

One challenges; one fights.

And when they wrangle on, O

The fury of the nights!


The second asks for solace,

The first for company.

In what must bruise the second,

The firstling takes his glee.

I cry, ‘Such dualism’s

An obsolete disgrace.’

To my reproach they answer:

‘You! You’re not in the race!’


Still, I’m the integral factor,

And how they execrate,

when I would hoist my burdens

And try to integrate!

Of course they cease to battle—

At times! They bill and coo;

But oh the fear oppresses

Of what they next may do.


what virtue glows in blisses

Too cloudwrack thin to snatch?

What pleasure’s in the pleasures

That vanish as you watch?

Some day I’ll overthrow them

And seize the reins, resigned

That I will live unhindered–

One man, one flesh, one mind,


July 2, 1947



To my heart heavy with despairs

I prithee, pretty twilight, sing;

Twinkle your lights, and, rosy airs,

Wave gently for my visioning.


For, if the night be fierce and shrill,

To-morrow’s heartache shall increase –

To you alone the method and will

To ‘seminate the womb of peace.


So, if you be the hag of day,

Be contrite for the pain you wreak,

Yielding as quickly as you may,

What all my arts and passions seek.


July 2, 1947


Why do I type these words here given,

Banal as harpnotes ‘twung’ in heaven?

Mainly because each threadbare phrase

Is manifest of wasted days

And thus can goad my corpse along

To tunesomer life and livelier song.


February 8, 1948







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