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Two Elms

ISSUE:  Summer 1931

Two elms there were, and one in April met Dethronement from uprooting gales,
But missed the bottom of abasement yet,
Though felled in flush of pollen: ruin pales
Before this transformation of July;
For sawn in cylinders of bleaching wood Like a proud serpent chopped in vertebrae It bares to light its broken hardihood.
Meanwhile its peer, for whom there might have knolled Like evil chance, drinks noon at every vein,
And up its bole, like watersnakes of gold,
Leap vital flickers from a pool of rain.
Intent on life, whatever life may mean,
All else, without commenting, go their ways;
The blackbirds flop in ditches of fat green,
The white-hipped bees in pinks of blackberry sprays;
Heaven is a shell, calcined of memories,
Whether of elm that fell or men that sawed: They might have toiled for Lears or Ptolemies,
So irresponsive is the calm abroad,
And still in shadowy, serpents of gold fire,
In endless hieroglyphics on the bark,
The shifting hand of life that does not tire Inscribes its wherefore; but our eyes are dark.


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