Many great Melbourne poets have died in the past 18 months. The world is diminished. Patrick Alexander is the latest. He died in Gertrude Street on Wednesday. One of his poems, Lines Late in the Day, herewith. Rest in peace.
I grow tired; the first pallors of darkness fall-
I blur emptiness with the T.V's images
until I do not see them, like hotel wallpapers,
and, numb, I find I still look back-
the long waste of chances, a show-off's cowardice
the endless easy evasions, so often playing the drowning man
with disability, certain of rescue - and the words,
almost incessant, excusing and immobilising self
in chiaroscuro, centre-stage of feelings and awareness
from which no exit into the world, no commitment found;
and when sometimes the words saved, I was a part,
recognised acceptance, then tacitly I would retreat
speaking denial to myself, denial - anything
to inhibit change, that loss of inadequacy,
of oblivion's self-rule. This poet is ambience
and signature of his work, and nobody
can be final arbiter or judge of his own worth;
as light fades, I know that feeling the taint of shame
does not redeem; if I believe it all to have been loss,
I preempt any victory to come: I assume that it was all war.
On imaginary battlements, seeing only ruins and demanding
reparation, that is choice and may find no answer.