Song for two voices
Here the great bed is unbetrayed,
Here the wide tree Consumes all greenness in its shade,
Here love must consummate (For the day darkens and the hour grows late)
That marriage and that union long foreseen.
Here on earth’s flowering breast
The wisest, bravest, loveliest
Found richness and increase, security,
And are no more distressed.
Even here, even here, beneath the ripening tree
Never to rise they lie, never to suffer fear—
The ultimate peace is here.
Helen turns to Paris now,
Guiltless of adulterous love,
The marshaled warriors row on row
Sleep in the sacred grove.
Here Cytherea roams and her small dove
Flies on the city gate
Suffusing peace, dispelling hate.
Andromache mourns her Hector now,
And from his tomb the hero answers her
(The warm voice through the snow).
While he, strayed from the grave, unhappy lingerer,
Murmurs of future joy to her tranced ear,
Lost in a dream she lies,
The morning sorrow in her evening eyes.
Shall we not lie in that great bed
Till evening gray gives place to sunrise red,
Before the gathering storm and long pent tempests shed
Wild maledictions on each lover’s head?
Never shall we behold
The golden warriors lying stark and cold,
The laughing girl and boy,
Stripped of their strength and joy,
Beneath the stormy air of stricken Troy.
NEBULAR HYPOTHESISMen say the matrix of the world
Was a vast ragged ring of flame.
We are such stuff as nebula?:
The nuclear fire still burns the same.
A shining nimbus year by year
Sifts, flows, eludes us even to name.
Not clear, our life will not be clear:
It shuts up brightness in a cloud,
It wraps up cloudiness in light.
The smoke-drift and the heron’s flight
Between the sea cove and the sky,
These are the signs we know it by;
The stubborn rising of the heart,
The restless clenching of the hand,
Seeing a hawk above the trees,
Hearing a brook come down the land.
For we can learn with all our art
Never to clasp, never to share
More than the nimbus and the fire,
More than the shining shapes of air.
The nebular flame is strict and proud.
All, all that is most dearly known
Is but as brightness in a cloud.
EUMENIDESAll times for crows, but mostly spring:
And soft and heavy with their wing.
The oak wood, innocent of bud,
Grows leafy as their shadows spill Black magic in a misty flood
Of green on new-ploughed field and hill.
Like Fates they sit on farmer’s fence
And snip like thread the growing stalk,
Embroidering cool, considered sin
With pleasant, melancholic talk.
How all unlike those Fates who thin
And cut untimely off the hope
Of human hearts without the wit
To make sad-pious game of it!
If Fates were crows, one could condone
What now is hard to reconcile—
To see uprooted in the germ
The fruit that would have made death smile.
THE SOUND I LISTENED FORWhat I remember is the ebb and flow of sound
That summer morning as the mower came and went
And came again, crescendo and diminuendo,
And always when the sound was loudest how it ceased
A moment while he backed the horses for the turn,
The rapid clatter giving place to the slow click
And the mower’s voice.
That was the sound I listened for.
The voice did what the horses did.
It shared the action As sympathetic magic does or incantation.
The voice hauled and the horses hauled.
The strength of one Was in the other and in the strength was no impatience.
Over and over as the mower made his rounds
I heard his voice and only once or twice he backed
And turned and went ahead and spoke no word at all.
NOTHING IS FAR
Though I have never caught the word
I hear all that the ancients heard.
Though I have seen no deity Enter or leave a twilit tree,
I see all that the seers see.
A common stone can still reveal Something not stone, not seen, yet real.
What may a common stone conceal?
Nothing is far that once was near.
Nothing is hid that once was clear.
Nothing was God that is not here.
Here is the bird, the tree, the stone.
Here in the sun I sit alone
Between the known and the unknown.