Let the cow mow the grass

Three poems by Frederick Turner

The Peace Treaty

  • My neighbor’s cow has got across
  • The green creek down below,
  • She’s on my island, eating grass
  • That I had planned to mow.
  • And so I sit and watch her graze,
  • And drink a glass of wine:
  • Would that the whole world had our ways
  • Of treating mine and thine!

On a Flemish Voice

  • For Annemarie Estor (and with thanks to Jan Vermeer)
  • Light from the great window isolates
  • The lady poet in the black French dress
  • Whose eyes glance sideways in alarm, their whites
  • Whiter than that fair skin, a sweet distress.
  • For they have asked her for the poem in Flemish,
  • When she had thought that she had got it done
  • In English, and without a single blemish;
  • And now she must go back where she’d begun.
  • A throaty flute, as warbled as a thrush,
  • Yet with the old Dutch downright honesty,
  • Her voice half-catches in the rising blush,
  • As if surprised in all its privacy:
  • Ghost caught in body, flesh inwoven to
  • A lace of song, what strangely changed to who.

Evening in Crete

  • It’s cooler now. Across the breeze-brushed sea
  • The mountain’s shadow falls.
  • The islands in the east now seem to be
  • Dim golden miracles.
  • Now all the herbal fragrances break free
  • Into this sapphire time:
  • White oleander, jasmine, rosemary,
  • And violet-starry thyme.

Frederick Turner’s science fiction epic poems gained him the distinction of being a consultant for NASA’s long-range futures group, through which he met Carl Sagan and the originators of the Mars colony movement. He received Hungary’s highest literary honor for his translations of Hungarian poetry with the distinguished scholar and Holocaust survivor Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, and has often been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature. Born in England, raised in Africa by his anthropologist parents Victor and Edie Turner, and educated at Oxford University, he is also known as a Shakespearean scholar, a leading theorist of environmentalism, an expert on the philosophy of time, and traditional karate’s poet laureate. He has taught at UC Santa Barbara, edited the Kenyon Review, and is presently Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas-Dallas.

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