Man of letters, or, Belles-lettres #2



The man of letters is cold.
No lover there to warm him,
or sit with lap-folded hands
while he strings his pearls.

The man of letters is old.
The fight has gone out of him.
Whose kisses could have
a tenth as much mass as hers?

The man of letters is silent.
Because nothing’s worth saying
if it cannot be shared with her.
And yet still he writes on, in case.

For the man of letters is hopeful
despite winter, age, sorrow.
He could not say why, because
tomorrow is as unknown as ever.


1. The man of letters would like it to be understood that he would quite happily alternate the sitting quietly by with lap-folded hands with the woman of letters while she floods her words onto the page. Or it could always be back to back, as was once imagined.

2. The letters of which the man of letters is a man are literally letters; an alphabet of stories was written for a woman who could not in the end take receipt of the proposal of marriage in the last of them except in imagination. He was also her man of letters in an epistolary sense. But he is not nor has he ever been a man of literary letters in the endowed, respected, or authorised senses of the phrase.

3. Every verse and line of this was written before a post published at five to four on the sixth of November 2014, not to mention any subsequent posts, in case you were wondering. In fact, that very morning. Poems, including those of the interrogative, lyrical, fragmentary kind warp for lovers just as much as Time.

4. Belles-lettres #1.


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