About the poet
Clive Wilmer's first collection of poems, The Dwelling-Place (Carcanet, 1977), opens with an...
It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream’, because it hath no bottom…
I was a weaver, and I wove
The moody fabric of my dream.
By day I laboured at the loom
And glimpsed the image of a love
I now know bottomless.
We were young men. We played our parts.
We schooled ourselves in the quiet wood.
By night the moon, which draws the flood,
Tugged at the rhythms of our hearts.
And they were bottomless.
I loved a girl who was a boy;
I took my stand and beat my breast.
Yet what was I but fool and beast,
Who did not so much speak as bray,
In bombast bottomless?
I trusted I had mastery,
Until one night, being left alone,
I snorted at the wandering moon
In terror of the mystery,
Which seemed quite bottomless,
And out of that she spoke, who had
No voice, although she stirred my sense,
Who touched me, though she had no hands,
And led me where you cannot lead,
Since it is bottomless.
I tried to speak: again I brayed.
I pinched and scratched my face: coarse hairs
Were crisping over cheeks and ears.
And when she drew me in, she made
The whole world bottomless.
Nothing possessed me. So she said
Do not desire to leave this wood.
Among the mossy clefts I hid
With petals where she pressed my head,
Desire being bottomless.
A most rare vision, such a thing
As who should say what such things be:
My terror turned to ecstasy,
The one much like the other, being
Both of them bottomless.
And then the change. The sun came up
Brash as a brassy hunting-horn.
I woke and, yes, I was a man.
Was I myself though? Self, like sleep,
May well be bottomless.
New moon tonight. Another dream
To act. They laugh at our dismay.
Oh but it’s nothing. Only play.
Except we just don’t feel the same,
For play is bottomless.
And so the story ends. My eyes
Are sore with weeping, but I laugh
(I who was seen to take my life),
For, having been an ass, I’m wise
And bottomless. Bottomless.
from New and Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2012), © Clive Wimer 2012, used by permission of the author and the publisher
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