Sunday, 23 June 2013

"Port Bou" (1933) by Sylvia Townshend Warner

Through the ruined walls
the unflawed sea.
And to the smell of sunned
earth and of salt
sea is added a third
smell that cries; Halt!
I am what will be

familiar to you
by this journey's end.
I am, stale, the smell
of the fire that quenced
the fire on this hearth, that brought
down these walls, that wrenched
this wound in the ground.

I am the smell
on all the winds of Spain.
I am the stink in the nostrils
of the men of Spain.
I have taken the place
of the incense at the burial,
I have usurped the breath
of the rose plucked for the bridal,
I am the odour of the wreath
that is held out for heroes
to behold and breathe.
I cordial the heart,
I refresh the brain,
I strengthen the resolved fury
of those who fight for Spain.

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