Remembering Christopher Middleton

One of the most unique of poets, Christopher Middleton, prolific, with a style so varied one could never quite pin it down but always eminently readable and energetic, died on November 29, 2015, in Texas, at the age of 89. British-born, he served in WWII in the RAF, and moved to Texas in 1966 where he taught Germanic languages at UT Austin and literature for 32 years. So he was an award-winning translator as well as a major poet in English. Here is a sample of his work:

The Paradox of Jerome’s Lion

By Christopher Middleton

Local his discourse, not yet exemplary,
Nowadays he is old, the translator,
So old he is practically transparent.

Good things and otherwise, evils done
Come home to him, too close to the bone
And so little transformed,
Him so transparent,
They float in and out of his window.

Killing fields and the pumpkin patch,
The combat boot putrid in a cherry tree,
Stroke on stroke the mortal build-up,
All the constraint, all the letting go,

So insistent in his attentions
That he needs a breathing block.
For lack of a monitor he might levitate,
The testy old bird, at his wondow;
He needs an animal, a sure thing,
One to imagine, at last. Speechless
As bedrock, a rough reminder of that.

A dog might be vigilant enough,
Intact, all heart, a yellow desert dog.
Avoirdupoids. A leopard? Markings
Regular, talons to swat
Any hurt away. Knowing
Hunger, not the greed. Sufficient

Unto itself, svelte, clean of limb;
Free through self-discipline, yes,
Yes, through self-discipline free,

And fierce, yet doing no violence
The wild by right he will restore
To a holy place, in time.

For want of that sort of a beast,
He might make do with a frog.

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Filed under Poetry, Poets, Remembering Poets

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