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An Imaginary War Elegy
"There is only a vast desolation left"- "There is only a vast desolation left" the strict verse form gives it substance, the poet the strict verse form give it substance, the poet needs to imprison his imagination or needs to imprison his imagination or grotesquely thru all the countries of the mind grotesquely thru all the countries of the mind he spill himself - the scarlet suggesting he spills himself - the scarlet suggesting blossoms of the plum-tree, not blood; blossoms of the plum-tree not blood - the lines suggesting the Long March - a totality - in a moment of time glowing in the blood suggesting then the blood, not the plum-tree. suggesting then the blood - not the plum tree And the language, an excellent whiskey, And the language, an excellent whiskey the spirit occult, yet potent.

the spirit occult, yet potent Asia lies before us, archaic source, Asia lies before us - archaic source terror and exhaustion hidden therein - terror and exhaustion hidden therein - our own, changed as we are by our wars our own, changed as we are by our wars the amber whiskey, the violence, the mingling the amber whiskey, the violence, the mingling      in cruelty and despair,           in cruelty and despair,      a river depositing its dead violated bodies a river depositing its dead violated bodies      into its sea           into its sea,      or into the mind, these things being vivid to us,
the plum-tree fading into wounds
or the mind - these things being vivid to us, the plum-tree
fading into wounds
the continent of sleep vaster than we know the continent of sleep vaster than we know      awakes, its armies stir.           awakes, its armies stir      the armies of Asia stir, I mean, a poetry or
history, returning into itself.
as the armies of Asia stir, a poetry or history
returning into itself
Mao is talking of great deserts, and deliberately "Mao is talking of great deserts and deliberately      these legends           these legends           hover like enormous statues, see thru the mists.

    
     hover like enormous statues seen thru the mists - "      [begin page ] whiskey or Empire of the blood "For a whole generation Genghis Khan
was a favorite of heaven"

"for a whole generation Genghis Khan was a favorite of Heaven      the poet           the poet      [begin page ] loses or wins a lover, loses or wins a boy as if he had lost or won      an empire.           an empire -      The splendor of eyes, archaic, the splendour of eyes, archaic -      wonder of self in this thing,           wonder of self in this thing:           grandeur and deceit of dreams,                he knew not that he was a world to me      his eyes like promises or fields                               not if he loved:      in which the grain, gold harvests or waves      of armies move.

    
          Almost contemptuously traditional, my song.

"almost contemptuously traditional" my song:

the amber clear radiant whiskey distilld the amber radiant clear whiskey distilld      from the language,           from the language,      words like the unharvested wheat, words like the unharvested wheat a sea of nature's ripe irrational grain, a sea of nature's ripe irrational grain      intoxications of injustice,           intoxicatons of injustice      archaic as this evening's worship of whiskey archaic as this evening's worship of whiskey      or war of spirits.

    
     or war of spirits      "The three armies laughd when they had crosst over"-

"the three armies laughd when they had crossd over"-

     changed, become a continent in themselves,           changed, become a continent in themselves -      conquering as one conquers the whiskey,

conquering as one conquers the whiskey

     "the Long March", I mean the exhausting transition,           The Long March, I mean: the exhausting transition,                     the visitations of hunger, the desert's      savage transformation, the armies changed, savage transformation, the armies changed bewildered by ghosts. I rose from each bed bewildered by ghosts. I rose from each bed as from a betrayal or a war as if from a betrayal or a war true to my time, more weary than before.

more weary than before [begin page ]

The Kings in their tents drink the Kings in their tents drink      until their rage becomes like love,

    
     until their rage becomes like love

    
blind Asia, drunk,

blind as Asia: drunk

"No one in the Red Army fears the hardship of the Long
March" the ten thousand miles,

"no one in the Red Army fears the hardships of the Long March
the ten thousand miles
the ten thousand mountains, the ten thousand mountains the ten million dead, the ten million dead the ten eternities of Hell.

the ten eternities of Hell

Being mathematically inexact, "by being mathematically inexact the poem acquires an emotional accuracy: the poem acquires an emotional accuracy -"

-remarkable in the use of phrases like "the three armies," -remarkable in its use of phrases like "the three armies" the traditional poetic name of the armies of the empire.. the poet traditional poetic name for the armies of the empire, the second and third lines which remain almost contemtu-
ously traditional. The poetic Imagination, so carefully
the second and third lines which remain almost
contemptuously traditional. The poetic imagination so carefully
based on archaic sources rises slowly, based on archaic sources, rises slowly sights
with drunken precision, sees
sights with drunken precision, sees (the strict verse form giving it substance) (the strict verse form giving it substance) more than the river throwing up its dead, more than the river throwing up its dead that flows between the mountains of the dead: that flows between the mountains of the dead a song of such tenderness lingers
in the desolate night air
a song of such tenderness
lingers in the desolate night air-
tender as your eyes were.

tender as your eyes were

the poet sees his face

changed by the changes of his lover's eyes.
the poet sees his face changed by the changes of his lover's horrible enemy's eyes