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When did you start your tricks Monsieur? What do you stand on such high legs for? Why this length of shredded shank You exaltation? Is it so that you shall lift your centre of gravity upwards And weigh no more than air as you alight upon me, Stand upon me weightless, you phantom? I heard a woman call you the Winged Victory In sluggish Venice. You turn your head towards your tail, and smile. How can you put so much devilry Into that translucent phantom shred Of a frail corpus? Queer, with your thin wings and your streaming legs How you sail like a heron, or a dull clot of air, A nothingness. Yet what an aura surrounds you; Your evil little aura, prowling, and casting a numbness on my mind. That is your trick, your bit of filthy magic: Invisibility, and the anæsthetic power To deaden my attention in your direction. But I know your game now, streaky sorcerer. Queer, how you stalk and prowl the air In circles and evasions, enveloping me, Ghoul on wings Winged Victory. Settle, and stand on long thin shanks Eyeing me sideways, and cunningly conscious that I am aware, You speck. I hate the way you lurch off sideways into air Having read my thoughts against you. Come then, let us play at unawares, And see who wins in this sly game of bluff. Man or mosquito. You don't know that I exist, and I don't know that you exist. Now then! It is your trump It is your hateful little trump You pointed fiend, Which shakes my sudden blood to hatred of you: It is your small, high, hateful bugle in my ear. Why do you do it? Surely it is bad policy. They say you can't help it. If that is so, then I believe a little in Providence protecting the innocent. But it sounds so amazingly like a slogan A yell of triumph as you snatch my scalp. Blood, red blood Super-magical Forbidden liquor. I behold you stand For a second enspasmed in oblivion, Obscenely ecstasied Sucking live blood My blood. Such silence, such suspended transport, Such gorging, Such obscenity of trespass. You stagger As well as you may. Only your accursed hairy frailty Your own imponderable weightlessness Saves you, wafts you away on the very draught my anger makes in its snatching. Away with a pæan of derision You winged blood-drop. Can I not overtake you? Are you one too many for me Winged Victory? Am I not mosquito enough to out-mosquito you? Queer, what a big stain my sucked blood makes Beside the infinitesimal faint smear of you! Queer, what a dim dark smudge you have disappeared into!
David Herbert Lawrence's other poems:
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