O give me your broad shoulders, friend,
My work it is on me and it will out or I
Stand more worthless than Pétain’s army
Herded into hot listless fields near Lille,
I want to rest my music on your broad shoulders.
I want to feel them stir beneath my fingers
As shoulders must, for they have in them the wings of angels,
So I may start the Abyss of the Birds.
But your broad shoulders they’ll give me hope
Though the worst for everyone is still to come.
Larksong, thrushsong, linnetsong are all I can think of
Antidote to these times of purest hate, where love
Has packed it in. Eros, thanatos,—the latter’s gloom.
Come, your shoulders then, be still, be still, be calm, be calm.
O give me your broad shoulders just till sunset
That I may write, keep faith with them.
Each rumpled virgin manuscript sheet
Our beloved France has fallen, the Bosch are supreme
And if they agitate to be free of me, your clavicles
Ache even with the music on them, as they must
(Beneath my ciphers jumping their tracks like eyes
To Auschwitz), I am driven by this insatiable lust
For music, to just jot even the smallest winged cry
Record each passing bird on your back, at this the end of time
Before a great darkness interrogates the sky
And evil, like that eagle, flies sublime.