The Beast in the Space

Shut up. Shut up. Thereís nobody here.
If you think you hear somebody knocking
On the other side of the words, pay
No attention. It will be only
The great creature that thumps its tail
On silence on the other side.
If you do not even hear that
Iíll give the beast a quick skelp
And through Art youíll hear it yelp.

The beast that lives on silence takes
Its bite out of either side.
It pads and sniffs between us. Now
It comes and laps my meaning up.
Call it over. Call it across
This curious necessary space.
Get off, you terrible inhabiter
Of silence. Iíll not have it. Get
Away to whoever it is will have you.

Heís gone and if heís gone to you
Thatís fair enough. For on this side
Of the words itís late. The heavy moth
Bangs on the pane. The whole house
Is sleeping and I remember
I am not here, only the space
I sent the terrible beast across.
Watch. He bites. Listen gently
To any song he snorts or growls
And give him food. He means neither
Well or ill towards you. Above
All, shut up. Give him your love.


William Sidney Graham (1918-1986)

New Collected Poems of W.S. Graham; Faber and Faber, London; ISBN 0571210155