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after Paul Verlaine

What of that night we ended up in some club,
dancing for the first time in years?
Again and again I was playing the chump
in the glitter of your perfect elegance.

You know I’ve this knack for self-sabotage –
trashing anything close to happiness –
though the countersunk bulbs in the ceiling
were stars, blinking back at your radiance.

How we stumbled into morning’s silence,
the full moon’s light like a lamp left on,
setting off the sobs of the Peace Gardens’
fountains, and that flash of purest birdsong.

poem by Ben Wilkinson

This poem is part of an ongoing portraiture project, in which I have drawn on the works of Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) to produce new poems of my own. It is also an attempt, in some small way, to honour and revivify interest in a great French poet whose work deserves to be held in higher regard. Other poems from this project have appeared in various publications, including  The Poetry Review ('Joie de Vivre'; 'October') and the Times Literary Supplement ('The Nightingale'; 'The Young Fools').