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Draft of An Imaginary War Elegy, undated

"There is only a vast desolation left"
the strict verse form give it substance, the poet
needs to imprison his imagination or
grotesquely thru all the countries of the mind
he spills himself - the scarlet suggesting
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
And the language, an excellent whiskey
the spirit occult, yet potent
Asia lies before us - archaic source
terror and exhaustion hidden therein -
our own, changed as we are by our wars
the amber whiskey, the violence, the mingling
in cruelty and despair,
a river depositing its dead violated bodies
into its sea,
or the mind - these things being vivid to us, the plum-treefading into wounds
the continent of sleep vaster than we know
awakes, its armies stir
as the armies of Asia stir, a poetry or history returning into itself
"Mao is talking of great deserts and deliberately
these legends
hover like enormous statues seen thru the mists - "
whiskey or Empire of the blood
"for a whole generation Genghis Khan was a favorite of Heaven
the poet
loses or wins a boy as if he had lost or won
an empire -
the splendour of eyes, archaic -
wonder of self in this thing:
he knew not that he was a world to me
not if he loved:
"almost contemptuously traditional" my song:

the amber radiant clear whiskey distilld
from the language,
words like the unharvested wheat
a sea of nature's ripe irrational grain
intoxicatons of injustice
archaic as this evening's worship of whiskey
or war of spirits
"the three armies laughd when they had crossd over"-

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

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

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

blind as Asia: drunk

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

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

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

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