WARREN, Robert Penn
The oaks, how subtle and marine,
Bearded, and all the layered light
Above them swims; and thus the scene,
Recessed, awaits the positive night.
So, waiting, we in the grass now lie
Beneath the languorous tread of light:
The grassed, kelp-like, satisfy
The nameless motions of the air.
Upon the floor of light, and time,
Unmurmuring, of polyp made,
We rest; we are, as light withdraws,
Twin atolls on a shelf of shade.
Ages to our construction went,
Dim architecture, hour by hour:
And violence, forgot now, lent
The present stillness all its power.
The storm of noon above us rolled,
Of light the fury, furious gold,
The long drag troubling us, the depth:
Dark is unrocking, unrippling, still.
Passion and slaughter, ruth, decay
descend, minutely whispering down,
Silted down swaying streams, to lay
Foundation for our voicelessness.
All our debate is voiceless here,
As all our rage, the rage of stone;
If hope is hopeless, then fearless is fear,
And history is thus undone.
Our feet once wrought the hollow street
With echo when the lamps were dead
All windows, once our headlight glare
Disturbed the doe that, leaping fled.
I do not love you less that now
The caged heart makes iron stroke,
Or less that all that light once gave
The graduate dark should now revoke.
We live in time so little time
And we learn all so painfully,
That we may spare this hour's term
To practice for eternity.
You will have to wait. Until it. Until The last owl hoot has quavered to a
Vibrant silence and you realize thre is no breathing Beside you, and dark curdles toward dawn. Until
Drouth breaks, too late to save the corn, But not too late for flood, and the dog-fox, stranded
On a sudden islet, barks in hysteria in the alder-brake.
Until the doctor enters the waiting room, and His expression betrays all, and you wish He'd take his God-damned hand off your shoulder. Until
The woman you have lived with all the years Says, without rancor, that life is the way life is, and she
Had never loved you, had believed the lie only for the sake of the children.
Until you become uncertain of French irregular verbs And by a strange coincidence begin to take Catholic instruction from Monsignor O'Malley, who chews a hangnail. Until
You realize, truly, that our Saviour died for us all, And as tears gather in your eyes, you burst out laughing,
For the joke is certainly on Him, considering What we are. Until
You pick the last alibi off, like a scab, and Admire the inwardness, as beautiful as inflamed flesh
Or summer sunrise. Until you
Remember, suprisingly, that common men have done good deeds. Until it
Grows on that, at least, God
Has allowed us the grandeur of certain utterances.
Tell me a story
Long ago, in Kentucky, I, a boy, stood
By a dirt road, in first dark, and heard
The great geese hoot northward.
I could not see them, there being no moon
And the stars sparse. I heard them.
I did not know what was happening in my heart.
It was the season before the elderberry blooms,
Therefore they were going north.
The sound was passing northward.
San Francisco Night Windows
So hangs the hour like fruit fullblown and sweet,
Our strict and desperate avatar,
Despite that antique westward gulls lament
Over enormous waters which retreat
Weary unto the white and sensual star.
Accept these images for what they are--
Out of the past a fragile element
Of substance into accident.
I would speak honestly and of a full heart;
I would speak surely for the tale is short,
And the soul's remorseless catalogue
Assumes its quick and piteous sum.
Think you, hungry is the city in the fog
Where now the darkened piles resume
Their framed and frozen prayer
Articulate and shafted in the stone
Against the void and absolute air.
If so the frantic breath could be forgiven,
And the deep blood subdued before it is gone
In a savage paternoster to the stone,
Then might we all be shriven.