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Three Pastorals in White

ISSUE:  Summer 1933

Do not believe, do not believe Your day-dulled eyes on this charmed night.
The moon has colors to deceive You—cream, crystal, and moonstone-white.
Do not believe that luminous shadow Is only, only what by day Men call a hayrack in a meadow Or that this shimmering stuff is hay.
Distrust, distrust familiar noises Mingled with a sweet-grass fragrance.
They are not men, those shadowy voices;
They are the moon’s immortal vagrants.
Believe the solemn, high, solsticial Sun that rises soon, soon.
Beware, beware on this initial Night of summer the full moon!
Twelve white cattle on the crest,
Milk-white against the chicory skies,
Six gazing south, six gazing west With the blue distance in their eyes.
Twelve white cattle standing still.
Why should they move? There are no flies To tease them on this wind-washed hill.
Twelve white cattle utterly at rest.
Why should they graze? They are past grazing.
They have cropped the grass, they have had their fill.
Now they stand gazing, they stand gazing.
Only the tall redtop about their knees And the white clouds above the hill Move in the softly moving breeze.
The cattle move not, they are still.
White and still—and this is peace.
LEAVE the bars lying in the grass.
Let all wanderers freely pass Into the pasture now.
Gone are the fawn-shy heifers, gone The little calf almost a fawn,
And the black two-year cow.
Leave the bars lying where they are.
Let each black-triangled birch bar Be white and triple warning:
One for all tender things that go,
One for the near and ultimate snow,
One for frost by morning.
In that first snow a frightened deer,
Fleeing the snow, swift with fear,
May pass here flying, flying.
Against that moment of swift need,
Give him swiftness, give him speed And passage! Leave the bars lying!


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