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Michele Leggott – Ⅰ

in the footsteps of Orpheus 




no way of knowing how poetic fact

will deliver the parts of itself confetto e confetto

nor how one who believed in walking

would become a figure dissolved in rain

I reach out and you are there

the music is sad but you hold me and we dance

there is no laughter now but we dance

two who love each other and a world that dances palmarosa

the saddest song in the empty streets and two dancing

can love wipe out death? so much death?

we dance where we walked in the city of dreams

we dance over the bridge where we laughed in the summer storm

hold me, hold me tight and tell me it’s almost dawn


who but a poet would script a prophet’s lines?


the Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti

was deported to a labour camp in the mountains of Serbia

in the spring of 1944   the guards took away everything

flashlight, book so he wrote in the dark

feeling his way over the poem shorn of its crown of accents

in September the camp was evacuated   3200 men

began a forced march north and west

they were weak and many died or were executed

when they couldn’t walk any further

at a dam near Abda on the West Hungarian border

Radnóti and 21 comrades were shot by their guards

the date was probably 8 November 1944

twenty months later the bodies were exhumed

and in the pocket of the poet’s raincoat were found ten poems

dated July to 31 October   they were written

into an address book with the stub of a pencil

for you one of them says

I have walked the full length of the soul

all the diacritics are in place