Sonnet to Shakespeare
O Shakespeare, if your noble tang of verse
had not ennobled me to sling my shame,
if what I am had settled into worse,
deep sludge of spirit drawn up still the same,
grave-sides, so burying me … if this had been
and all my years so bitten in the mould
high stone falls down – if thus my sense were mean,
mean scrap would rust – and rank itself as gold.
What gleams? What blind man sees? Out of the valley
I sign the sunlight on, shoulder – not arms
but pen, but always-squinting mind – and rally,
salute the well-born sky and ditch alarms.
I walk: and you have raised me by your writing.
Poet of men, I hang on, scrabbling, fighting.