The Grain of Things

Beware of what's uniform, lapidary, slick.

As if a twisting country lane
where shadows bow and curtsy
were to be avoided
because of its green spine and blisters;
or it were desirable
that literary translations should not sound
foreign and close to the originals.

Waxen-skinned fruit is apt
to taste less sweet than the pocked potato
and ruckled pomegranate.

Let me have about me
not members of the awkward squad
or fools so cussed they cannot compromise,
but friends who think, and say
what they think, not given to repeat
themselves with variations;
men and women with robust wordbanks
who deal in things no less than intuitions
and cast their cloaks before the beautiful.

Salt-milled stone has its place.
Oil has its place.
Likewise the assembly line.

And no, I have no wish to be abraded
when I am low in spirits
or to listen to the litanies of the bigoted,
nor even to be pricked by the moustache
of an amorous woman!

But give me the gruff,
the honest stumble and crux –
the obstinate knot in the grain of things.

from Selected Poems (Enitharmon Press, 2001), copyright ? Kevin Crossley-Holland 2001, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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