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Barry Tebb Poems
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Why is it that in dreams I have visited -

As teacher or pupil - almost every college and school

In our once so green and pleasant land?

Hardly a subject from art to anthropology I have not

In dream seminar or floating spinning classroom

Studied or tried my prentice hand at, or learned

At the sandalled feet of some guru; as this minute

I returned from an easeled art room with the title

Of my weekly essay, ‘Discuss the links between the work

Of any symbolist poet and Monet.’

O, how slowly I drifted back to consciousness

Probing delightedly the dizzying whitenesses of Mallarmй

Strolling along an avenue of linden trees

Under a Provencal sky of azure

Wet with the scent of jasmine and lavender.

Yet in reality, things could hardly have been more different:

Watching our children grow from their first tottering steps,

Helping to tend them in sickness, learning the basics

Of the healer’s art, taking an old man to a ward,

Listening, listening to how many troubled lives

And to my own, perhaps; seeking to tease a meaning

Or find a thread in the jumbled maze of sorrows

Souls in their turbulence and grief have wandered through.

I even wrote a novel, ‘A Gone World’ I called it,

And helped another with the birth-pangs of her own.

Trying my hand at translation I puzzled the subtle

Metaphors of Reverdy, wandering his midnight landscapes

Of windmills and cross-roads where faith meets fate

And neither will succumb.

I sat in a packed lecture hall while a Lacanian

Misread early Freud through a crooked lens

And for a year turned every seminar to war

To make him see his vision’s fatal flaw.

I poured over cabinets of case histories,

Tried living here and there and met an amah,

Teaching her Auden and Empson. Her tears mingled

With my own at our last hurried meeting

In a crowded tea room, teaching her Klein.

I sat through many a summer watching the children play,

Feeling a hermit’s contentment in his cave,

Contemplating Plato and envisioning that cave

Of his where shadows move against the wall;

And turn to see or fail to see

The need to turn at all.
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