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The selfsame, the siren 

of icy waters, shrugging off as she does the Baltic 

to hang out in our seas, 

our inlets, the rivers

through which she climbs, bed-hugger, who keeps going against

the flow, from branch to branch, then 

from capillary to snagged capillary, 

farther and farther in, deeper and deeper into the heart 

of the rock, straining 

through mud runnels, till one day 

a flash of light from the chestnut trees

sends a fizzle through a standing well, 

through a drain that goes

by dips and darts from the Apennines to the Romagna — 

the selfsame eel, a firebrand now, a scourge, 

the arrow shaft of Love on earth 

which only the gulches or dried-out 

gullies of the Pyrenees might fetch and ferry back 

to some green and pleasant spawning ground, 

a green soul scouting and scanning 

for life where only 

drought and desolation have hitherto clamped down, 

the spark announcing 

that all sets forth when all that’s set forth 

is a charred thing, a buried stump, 

this short-lived rainbow, its twin met

in what’s set there between your eyelashes, 

you who keep glowing as you do, undiminished, among the sons 

of man, faces glistening with your slime, can’t you take in

her being your next-of-kin?

Eugenio Montale: The Eel

Paul Muldoon

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