The Dowser

With my forked branch of Lebanese cedar
I quarter the dunes like downs and guide
an invisible plough far over the sand.
But how to quarter such shifting acres
when the wind melts their shapes, and shadows
mass where all was bright before,
and landmarks walk like wraiths at noon?
All I know is that underneath,
how many miles no one can say,
an unbroken water-table waits
like a lake; it has seen no bird or sail
in its long darkness, and no man;
not even pharaohs dug so far
for all their thirst, or thirst of glory,
or thrust-power of ten thousand slaves.
I tell you I can smell it though,
that water. I am old and black
and I know the manners of the sun
which makes me bend, not break. I lose
my ghostly footprints without complaint.
I put every mirage in its place.
I watch the lizard make its lace.
Like one not quite blind I go
feeling for the sunken face.
So hot the days, the nights so cold,
I gather my white rags and sigh
but sighing step so steadily
that any vibrance in so deep
a lake would never fail to rise
towards the snowy cedar's bait.
Great desert, let your sweetness wake.

1986

 

You are looking for more poems by Edwin Morgan? - Then have a look at his books, please!

 

The Dowser was quoted from:

Collected Poems, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1990, p. 503.

The poem was originally published in the collection Themes on a Variation, Manchester, Carcanet Press, 1988, which is out of print by now.

However, it was reprinted in:

Collected Poems, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1990, pp. 503.

New Selected Poems, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 2000, pp. 156.

Both of these books are still available directly at Carcanet Press Ltd., and any bookshop or online bookshop.

 

The copyright of the poem recited remains with Edwin Morgan and Carcanet Press Ltd.; it may not be copied or distributed without the express permission of both, the author and the publisher.

 

 

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