Jack Lindsay


to William Blake, in Borrowdale, Cumberland,
two hundred years after his birth,1957

The clouds of witness thicken in the greybranched air
batwinged and furred with dust, clustered on splintered rafters
of our inner desolation, hanging headdown unwinking
or thinner than the gaps of stagnant darkness where dankly
the trapped winds whimper between the stars they drift and sink
into the groundwhirl of withered leaves, and flake off scum­
among the corroded bones of the deserts that are our cities:

A crack runs grinning across the tombface of the world.
There are high‑fidelity ears tuned for the batscreech of
and TV eyes flickering in the eyes of the credulous dead,
but all else fails in the senses’ rat‑riddled house,
the dark trumpet of bones breaks vainly in Gabriel’s mouth.

The nights draw in. The flat bridge‑cards tumble. The deep
under all.
The weekend cars crawl slower and slower to Brighton's
But over the supersonic blurts the monstrous toadstool of smoke
pouring the glass‑sharp goads of cancer through the laps of
All the clocks of the blood are stopt on the shockminute of
I too have forgotten the date when the world and all it crumbled
if ever I knew. But I know that the prophesied agony woke
and (raped in our sleep) we were changed into Things,
and sewn up with sponges, sawdust, cogwheels that widdershins
So I too in fear avert my face from the rich irreversible earth
and leafgrace of the undying dancers, the alms of generous Time,
and stare at hell's screen, lockt repetitive, averaged, gnat‑mad.

What shall we do then? what shall we do with our death?
Come up, William Blake! come tiptoe up, you blue Sun,
and leap on the top of the morning! come tipsily up,
you snubnosed Jesus, dance on the cross of our bones
and give us our flesh back out of the cave in the rock,
the spring of resistless justice and nourishing mercy.
Come up with the lustrous rush of angelic simplicities,
with the dark collision of reckless unteachable devils,
with the image of Los clangshaped out of contraries,
with the fourfold harmonies folded in Jerusalem
the crystal city of man reunited with nature
founded on boundless love and on definite contours of all things

I speak in Borrowdale where men and mountains still meet
and the waters of Hause Gill wreathe my brows with bright
Rid us of this our death, the abstraction, the baldheaded vultures
picking our skeletons clean in the saltwhite deserts of money,
and lead us into your green and pleasant land.

SOURCE: Lindsay, Jack. Collected Poems, illustrated by Helen Lindsay. Lake Forest, IL: The Cheiron Press, 1981. xvi, 605 p., [40] leaves of plates. Signed. Copy #31. “Request for Help” (from the period 1957-1979): pp. 564-565.

A Checklist of Jack Lindsay's Books
Includes all of the following Lindsay links & more

Collected Poems [Section Headnotes] by Jack Lindsay

"The Poet explains the Situation to Los and Elza-Enitharmon" by Jack Lindsay

"Spinoza" poem by Jack Lindsay

"Giordano Bruno" by Jack Lindsay

"A Note on My Dialectic" by Jack Lindsay

"Towards a Marxist Aesthetic" by Jack Lindsay

Adorno and the Frankfurt School by Jack Lindsay

A Garland for Jack Lindsay

Jack Lindsay and British Poetry in the 1930s by Adrian Caesar

"The Origins of Jack Lindsay's Contributions to British Marxist Thought" by Joel R. Brouwer

William Blake Study Guide

British Marxism in Philosophy, Science, and Culture Before the New Left:
Essential Historical Surveys

Marx and Marxism Web Guide

Offsite Links:

Jack Lindsay - Wikipedia

Papers of Jack Lindsay (1900-1990) (MS 7168, National Library of Australia)

The Origins of Alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt by Jack Lindsay
Poem To Marie Delcourt-Curvers [HMTL]
To Marie Delcourt-Curvers [pdf file]
The First and Concluding Chapters

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