Climbing the Wall

I have known fear,
I must confess,
Yes, I have been afraid
To visit him
And get to know the world
As he had seen it

For reasons obvious,
Of course,
But also more obscure
More selfish
More vain,
Being concerned that
My efforts would merely
Pale in contrast to his,

That I would
Simply be
The poor relation
Who does no more
Than ape the
Of a previous

That maybe
I just miss the point,
The crux of this craft,
In ways
He knew naturally,
Made look easy.

Fear there was, too,
That I would be
A copy-cat,
That I would
Steal his style,
Try to mimic
All his best verses
Or produce
No more than tributes
And carnival mirror

Despite the contradiction
That I show
No such reverence
To those names
Of great renown
Who moulded and shaped me
In the early days
Of this lonely

And there are
Common details
That I cannot escape:
Each of us liked
To take our name
In its translation,
Loved to see
The places where
Old tradition
Lives on,
In the same vocation.

And I too
Have known darkness,
Known exhaustion
And despair,
Though not as he did
Nor as anyone else does,
But that too
Is a fear.

For even though
I can visit
His words and ideas
And marvel at
His choices
And combinations
And fresh compounds
And flawless attention
To economy,

And even though
I can revisit
My own words,
And all written when
We both
Were boys
Becoming men,
I cannot know him,
Hear his voice,
See him respond
To words and action
Away from the
Or the pen,

And I am afraid
Still to explore
Or delve too deep
To try and see
This world
The way
He must have seen it
In the end,

For I too have known darkness,
And some coincidental details
Are the same.
So yes, I am afraid.


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