Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


The earliest of my Hypatia poems....



                                    Last night I dreamed of the old woman scholar

                                    With the wide, humorous mouth and fearless eyes.

                                    She wears her hair like a young girl to the shoulder,

                                    Gunmetal grey, tied with a velvet band.

                                    I wanted you to meet her, dear.  I said,

                                    "This is my lover; this is my old friend.

                                    I hope we three will be together always."


                                    And afterwards, privately, to Hypatia

                                    I said, "This is the third time we have met.

                                    The first was when I saw you at the crossroads,

                                    Hurrying past by night.  Your back was turned

                                    And I was so enamoured of illusion

                                    I thought my life might be just such a dream

                                    And that I'd find a lover in the image

                                    I had of you, pre-Raphaelite and fey.

                                    You know I paid for that- with eighteen years

                                    Complete misapprehension.  You kept clear

                                    Until I trashed the dream.  But then you came

                                    To strengthen me, just at the point of crisis,

                                    Still in the girlish shape I'd wished for you,

                                    But older, more composed, the long hair cropped

                                    And with a husband- whom I never saw-

                                    Preparing me for the truth.  Now that it's out

                                    You are at last yourself, the clever woman

                                    Who is amused by everything.  I meet

                                    The husband you kept hidden; his shot nerves

                                    Are quietened by your cynical commonsense.

                                    And you're amused at me and I'm not jealous.

                                    How could I be?  I know you are myself-

                                    You and your husband- aspects of myself-

                                    And what you mean is clear.  I shall be faithful

                                    To what I am and to the honest woman

                                    Who lies beside me nightly- we'll grow old

                                    Under the Pennine wall- and likewise faithful

                                    To your remorseless scholarship, dear Hypatia."


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