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The Letters

ISSUE:  Spring 1933


Autumn has changed to spring since I last wrote.
There should be stars out where you walk tonight.
Tomorrow your blue eyes will fill with light
From open fields, sprung greenly to the note
Cried by new birds that hop about the loam,
And from new heavens shining in the sun.
I wish that my long time away were done,
For I am lonely now and sick for home.

If from some heavy woe the heart might break—
But it will hold with such small griefs as this
And know a hundred, newer things to miss.
I would not utter sorrow—for your sake—
But must, remembering morning in your face,
Being from you, alone, in a strange place.


This is the season when I think of flight,
Hungry for earth, green country, and deep sky,
Eager to muffle with woods the world’s loud cry
And shut my eyes with hills against its sight.
I think how, where you are, deliberate creeks
Make music in the silence as they steal,
How spirit there on quiet ground might feel
The little touch of safety that it seeks.
O, so I think; but there are no escapes.
Flight does not leave the noisy heart behind,
Nor darkness shut the straight eyes of the mind.
The world is with us still in our own shapes,
And all the coverts we shall ever know
Are in the midst of happiness and woe.


Swimmer in sunlight, what can the quick trout teach?
Even the swift are taken by surprise,
With wonder captured in their staring eyes.
All that we count as safe is in death’s reach.
Calm are the pools of the mysterious streams
And shadowed deeply by the fallen boles,
Yet terror travels with the silver shoals
Like dread with beauty moving in our dreams.

What little hooks of worry time can throw
To take the young and splendid as its catch!
Even the true for time is not a match,
Nor are the little mysteries that we know.
We can but peer in shadowy deeps and watch
The years like startled minnows gleam and go.


I shall forget what seasons have burned blue,
Sending the blown rains whipping down the sky,
And shall remember azure in your eye
And that a deathless summer burns in you.
How shall it be to put this beauty by
When all the body’s lovely use is through?
Uncertain, I shall write the joy I knew
And keep you with the summers when we die.
This side of death I had forgot what sweet
The hiving years can store within their comb.
But now the buzzing thought, in turning home,
Finds all the roads of earth with bloom complete
And gathers honeyed memories in its sac
And straightly flies with summer on its back.


To find the south the mind need only turn
Where lines of wild ducks point into the gloam,
Arrowed with pressing hunger to be home.
All yesterday I saw their stout wings spurn
The vacant greyness of this alien sky;
And I am sick at heart since yesterday,
And there is half that I should like to say
Within the startled music of their cry.

Keep still unchanged the country where they pass.
They have been far. They sicken for the sight
And comfort of some loved familiar thing
Before, all spent, they splash in reedy grass.
O, to beat safely in some starry night
With distance done and victory in my wing.


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