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Georgian Poetry 1920-22
written by "Hughes, Richard Arthur Warren, 1900-1976"
...trough On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat, To drink there. In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob tree I came down the steps with my pitcher And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me. He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough And rested his throat upon the stone bottom, And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness, He sipped with his straight mouth, Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body, Silently. Someone was before me at my water-trough, And I, like a second-comer, waiting. He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do, And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do, And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment, And stooped and drank a little more, Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking. The voice of my education said to me He must be killed, For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous. And voices in me said, If you were a man You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off. But must I confess how I liked him, How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless, Into the burning bowels of this earth? Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel honoured? I felt so honoured. And yet those voices: If you were not afraid you would kill him. And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more That he should seek my hospitality From out the dark door of the secret earth. He drank enough And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken, And flickered his ton...

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