They know, they know, the animals.
Without or questions or replies,
Mystics of undeliverable words,
They keep their dumbness and arc wise;
And shyly sleek and archly meek,
They smile from corners of their eyes;
Hugging that only truth they know,
The beauty of the earth below,
They wink at all sun-blinded birds And man’s Icarian wings, that seek And tumble down the deeps that terrorize;
For men but lose that personality They would keep whole and free In fires that fuse while they, immortalize.
They knew, they knew, the animals,
Ere Esarhaddon wrought them on his frieze,
Ere Babylon limned them on her walls
Or flushed Astarte rose from seas—
And older are their winks
Than Amen-Hotep or the Sphinx.
They look back, farther back than eyes oblique
Of endless Pharaohs in procession going
To find the secret of the water’s flowing.
The stolid wisdom of the cows
With softly ruminating eyes,
Couched when the mad gale ploughs
His ruin through the skies—
This, this confounds us; and with fear
The delicate aloofness of the deer
Haunts us at noonday; from the hides,
The century-wrinkled hides of elephants,
What lurking laughter solemnly derides,
Earth-quaking, forest-huge, and sheer,
The puling of us puny suppliants.
The wild-ass choosing carefully
Her dying-place without a moan—
So stoic is her pride of privacy—
Puts sage and sophist off the throne,
And even the camel, whip-lashed to the bone,
Knows falsehood in the mirage on the verge
Whereto we confidently urge;
Though bowed with loads, he never bent
To our sore load of disillusionment.
They know, they, know, the animals.
When God was very young in years He must have whispered in their ears His deep earth-secret—the calm joy that falls To all fulfilling what they feel and know.
Clinging to beauty found below Surely they have some lore of Him Hidden from saints or seraphim.