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The Tragedy of Small Things

ISSUE:  Spring 1945

As the pale darkness settles down to praise
With its gray tones the grandeur of the day
Disorder comes with swallows in the field,
Who rasp their arduous and eternal hunger
Over the heavy air in which they hover,
Shattering the silence like a globe of glass.
The hunger in the meadows is an omen
Of what will bring the lion and lynx and wolf
And hollow-haunting owl to awful life.
In the dead center of the sibilant night
Deaths build their pyramid within the wood.
Among the sounds of sorrow and of sleep.
The builders of the monument forget,
And those with whom the monument is built,
Bone over bone, bone buried under bone,
Have no cause to remember.
Carols the cold-throated, king-torn nightingale, a voice
Versed in the arts of mourning, and resigned,
“O triumph of the proud,
O arching hours,
Under which wait the witnesses of wrath,
Take in the timid and the slow of foot,
The ruminative and the patient ones;
Sever the cords and pass the gates of fire,
Burn in yourselves nnd come to ashes, too.
What falls will rise, beneath the eyes of doves,
To the stag’s bell and the insects’ chorus,
Beyond the wanton leopard and the fox.
O hours of triumph, winding toward the light,
Within whose confines crouch the hunted—taut
And terrified and virtuous and trapped,
Prepare to see within your run their rising.”
The song has ceased, the nightingale has fled,
And forth white-feathered comes the crowing cock.
Dour seeps the dawn across the forest floor,
And what was life and death beneath the moon
Becomes a falling leaf and silence seen.


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