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The Secret Name

W. S. Graham



Whatever you’ve come here to get

You’ve come to the wrong place. It

(I mean your name) hurries away

Before you in the trees to escape.


I am against you looking in

At what you think is me speaking.

Yet we know I am not against

You looking at me and hearing.


If I had met you earlier walking

With the poetry light better

We might we could have spoken and said

Our names to each other. Under


Neath the boughs of the last black

Bird fluttered frightened in the shade

I think you might be listening. I

Listen in this listening wood.


To tell you the truth I hear almost

Only the sounds I have made myself.

Up over the wood’s roof I imagine

The long sigh of Outside goes.




I leave them there for a moment knowing

I make them act you and me.

Under the poem’s branches two people

Walk and even the words are shy.


It is only an ordinary wood.

It is the wood out of my window.

Look, the words are going away

Into it now like a black hole.


Five fields away Madron Wood

Is holding words and putting them.

I can hear them there. They move

As a darkness of my family.




The terrible, lightest wind in the world

Blows from word to word, from ear

To ear, from name to name, from secret

Name to secret name. You maybe

Did not know you had another

Sound and sign signifying you.



Poetry Nation No 3 (1974)