Kinsella`s Cantos:

Dream Canto 1: Egotistical Sublime
They dream ocean currents here: landlocked,
low-rise valley, foot of purgatory
tidal and exposed to the drag of planets.
Farmers travel to Albany for holidays,
and the Southern Ocean pounds and grinds
continental granite, contorted vegetation
low to fronts always crossing, brushing...
a five-hour drive a stone’s throw away,
the white-sand beaches of Frenchman’s Bay,
white-pointers cruising deep waters
malodorous with sea shanties. Sometimes,
after retirement, it’s the Greek islands,
or the Peloponnese or Sicily... and these coastlines
also gnaw as pain and salvation, a nervous tic,
yes, yes... our paddocks were salt-water and krill.
Dream Canto 2: Climbing the Outcrop, the Calenture, Bare Feet...
“Già monavam su per li scaglion santi
Ed esser mi parea troppo più lieve
Che per lo pian non mi parea diavanti”
[We now were hunting up the sacred stairs,
And it appeared to me by far more easy
Than on the plain it had appeared before.]
lines 115-117, Canto 12, Purgatorio
Denim jeans tucked into work boots, partially
gripping the rocky outcrop; we slip and conjure
aspirations of bare feet, wrapped
about stone and root, the valley flooded
with water fresh as quartz.
A local wind sweeps the crest,
clouds of locusts high-tailing it to green fringes.
Bare feet have us possessed.
We try taking the summit with boots off.
Skin glows like morning, then a bloody sunset.
The locusts are angels and our feet their purpose.
Rare trees die as we profane the terrain.
Ants test any willing suspension of disbelief
our oxygenated lungs trick us into: inside our boots
damaged feet have no redress, no peace.
Canto of the Leaves (Empyrean)
“Così la neve al sol si disigilla;
così al vent one le foglie levi
si perdea la sentenza di Sibilla.”
[Even thus the snow is in the sun unsealed,
Even thus upon the wind in the light leaves
Were the soothsayings of the Sibyl lost.]
lines 64-66, Canto 33, Paradiso
Solvent light on leaves.
She barely sees surfaces,
barely breaks through epidermis
to mesophyll, following
prosody of vascular tissue;
she signs with leaf scale,
rust, mildew, epinasty,
and those fallen in late summer —
dry curvilinear graph paper,
each miniscule frame blown out,
hot easterlies blasting over
vast, naked sandplain,
rocking skyscraper haystacks
to sway breaking wave
and collapse, burst out
like countersignatures.
Leaves flutter down
from dying crowns,
snowflakes she recalls
from frozen regions: each death
perfect and different
as the next. No rain
will come. No fresh leaves
burgeon. No gyres
made entire. She
scatters her verses
to blaze, to melt,
crumble always,
the infinitive,
a future.
Canto — Evening
And so I went to the dip in the land
and awaited the shade, sunset stretched
as autumn, catching bare steel sharply,
limp deflection off painted iron, the child’s swing
buckling sideways with the cross-breeze, discarded
cotton bud unwinding on its stem
near the clothesline; across the windscreen
of the stranded Rodeo ute, block-mounted,
a ruby and emerald light skitters
like an advertising logo, a ring of truth
in thin wafts of smoke we barely sense as danger
despite a combustive dry, past witnessings
of what follows such a herald; scrunched
against the stubble, barely-established York gums
speed up their dying, termites mewing,
scorpions, tails up, glowing with the infra red
of prayers, inflicted as we expect infliction
of suffering — to pass, as night will pass...
and light return, the stomach hollow
as night feeders search out day-shade, sleeping,
digesting without a shred of guilt,
a ring of ‘Beati misericordes’ sounding tangents
to our encirclings, heading up the laneway,
up to the road reserve where kangaroos
gingerly graze and black-faced cuckoo shrikes
strike at lifting butterflies, rip into the young
of nearby species, maybe wagtails’, those up-lifters.
Rapture of the cluster (Doré’s Cross)
Down the track, brilliantly satisfying
mind-wheels, borrowings of pleasure
that spin chrome and sunlight glinting
from its centre. I am here, the axle,
the hub of a flooded estate, water up
and seagulls clustering like angels
around the lighthouse. Below ground, caves
glimmer their bold delicacies: cautious
and sumptuous, the drip-down, solvents
of flight. Out to sea, off the cape,
rainclouds adhere to the swell, and birds
join at the wings making light
where the sun is, should be. Soothed
despite the gale, waves smashing rough rocks
below the lookout, you stand firm
and seals gambol in pools of relative calm,
as if watching the birds perform
their rites of storm, instinct to fill the sky.
John Kinsella
From Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography
(WW Norton & Co, 2008)