I Cannot Give the Reasons

Mervyn Peake

One of my favourite and most re-read books is Mervyn Peake’s A Book of Nonsense. The following poem comes from this book.

I CANNOT GIVE THE REASONS

I cannot give the reasons,
I only sing the tunes:
the sadness of the seasons
the madness of the moons.

I cannot be didactic
or lucid, but I can
be quite obscure and practic-
ally marzipan

In gorgery and gushness
and all that’s squishified.
My voice has all the lushness
of what I can’t abide

And yet it has a beauty
most proud and terrible
denied to those whose duty
is to be cerebral.

Among the antlered mountains
I make my viscous way
and watch the sepia mountains
throw up their lime-green spray.

Mervyn Peake
Mervyn Peake
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