Dragon World
by Gavin Bantock
   Our days are haunted with dragons. We have heard
   bewildering sounds we cannot explain away.
   We have seen shadows in the sky and blurred
   forms moving across bare wooden floors.
5   We have tried to dismiss these things as absurd
   day-dreams, but something is there: we may
   call them dragons for want of a better word.
    
   Understand me: these are not what knights would slay
   for the love of maidens standing on distant shores.
10   These are here now: I encountered one today,
   or what I thought was one: my house swayed
   for a full minute; and though we commonly say
   such things are earthquakes, who knows what roars
   under the ground? Who knows why mountains sway?
    
15   When a clock stops, we think we know the cause;
   but no-one knows what god the clock obeyed.
   And when the wind blows unlatched doors
   silently open, we wonder who is there;
   but nobody enters, and we somehow pause
20   in our conversations, because we feel afraid
   something is creeping round the room on bandaged claws.
    
   We sometimes love; and sometimes, when betrayed,
   we feel black monster-passions flame and tear
   the lining of our minds. The white-hot blade
25   of longing is a dragon-founded sword;
   and jealousy, anger and pain will never fade,
   and nothing will diminish our despair,
   until these creatures end their dragonnade.
    
   A genius at the keyboard can hardly bear
30   the clanging dragon sounding in every chord;
   and master-painters half-insanely stare
   at the rainbow-worms of oil that seem
   to writhe on their palettes like a gorgon's hair.
   A grey-haired poet weeps over the vast hoard
35   of bitter words entrusted to his care.
    
   Dragons are the world's masters: the lord
   of all creation is a dragon, whose scheme
   is to stop us somehow from becoming bored
   by this miracle-life which first stirred
40   in the sea-kingdoms. For centuries it's warred
   against men who have forgotten how to dream:
   it longs for simple human wonder to be restored.
    
   For without dragons, the courageous gleam
   in the eyes of men will soon be slurred
45   over with the smoke of cities and the steam
   of whining turbines out of control. And grey
   stones will grow in our brains; and the theme
   of our last song will perish like a white bird
   lost in wild seas where petrels used to scream.
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