[handwritten: To Judy,
memories of a war – with love
a naked arm of towering oak
clutching the opalescent glow
of winter sundown;
the running footprints of a wild deer
in the snow.
a crystal fragment of eternity. [unnumbered page]
No singing bells from lofty silver spires
To hymn their going forth,
Unto a sea as fraught with martyrdom
As any Cartier sailed.
No kinfolk gathered upon their knees
To cloak with invocation,
This host of silent shadows moving down
Under the bridge of dawn.
The chimes are calling for these conquerors
Where little children tread,
In innocence of hunger:
The banners of the valiant are unfurled
Wherever prayers are said. [unnumbered page]
Drift of white pinions
On a song
Of cloud and sky and sea,
The haunting fragment
Of some half-remembered
Melody. [unnumbered page]
You need not beg me smile, my dear,
To see you go away,
With promises of safe return
Upon some later day.
You need not bid me lock my mind
To danger that is near,
Now that I scale as others do
The pinnacles of fear.
If I must wait in loneliness
It will not be in night,
For I shall have my lamp of hope
To keep my spirit bright.
I must fly to fields of grief
I shall not go alone;
There will be those that fly with me
Whose wings have turned to stone. [unnumbered page]
VILLAGE IN OCTOBER
There is a crimson place where two roads meet,
Valiant with oak and maple:
Three cottages stand quiet in the sun,
The browning fields lie placid
Dreaming of harvest gone and storm to come,
Where two black crows fly gaunt against the sky.
The bitter fragrance of the marigold
Is on the ragged street,
And cellars smelling sweet
Of apple cider;
Silence is eternal,
And all the world is leaves,
Falling, falling leaves. [unnumbered page]
Etching in silver
On an evening sky,
Wings dipped in vibrant dusk,
Scorning the graying fields of earth
Where swallows fly;
To follow down the pathway of the sun
The quiet, lovely footfalls
Of retreating day.
A soaring ecstasy
Weaving its melody
In silent music, chaste as Schumann’s Lied,
A Karsavina dancing “Les Sylphides”.
The darkness reaches up to gather in
The first reluctant star:
This transient hostage to the far
Eternal boundaries of man, wings homing
Through the night,
Leaving its secret singing with the moon
And with the stars, the poetry of flight. [unnumbered page]
TO AN AUSTRALIAN COBBER
So you have left a while the Southern Cross
To fill our skies with thunder of your wings;
Perhaps your own could better bear the loss,
If they could know the joy your presence brings
To us two here. Our evenings on the shore
Of Blue Lake Huron, with the wind and sand,
Have only made us realize the more
The strength and dignity that is your land:
Your journeyings have surely just begun,
Your wing tips yet will brush the stars in flight:
Yours is to seek the dwelling of the sun,
And find eternity beyond the night.
We have no wings to follow: at the best
Our spirits shall fly with you in your quest. [unnumbered page]
END OF SUMMER
I can remember passing here
While daffodils were still asleep,
Now see, the aster burning deep
With longings, tells the turn of year
And I could find it in my heart to weep.
Those days will never come again
When the young spirit that was I
Stood listening, ’neath a summer sky,
To poems whispered by the rain,
To hear the wind go laughing softly by.
Wild geese are calling from the clouds
Throughout the ripe, still autumn day:
My being, once a gypsy gay,
Waits silently within its shrouds;
This crystal moment too will pass away.
Why did I strive with eagerness
To hold all beauty here with me?
For now I know that I shall see
Even this yearning bitterness,
Quietly slip into eternity. [unnumbered page]
TO PHYLLIS ON HER BIRTHDAY—1943
Then you must quell each little nameless fear
That haunts the darkened stairways of your mind,
As you go forth to greet another year,
Despairing lest it prove to be unkind.
It is your quietude that pilots me
In safety through a sea of bitterness,
And yours the faith that builds eternity
With strength and beauty garnered from distress:
Your candlelight goes seeking in the night
Of every soul, foundations for belief;
Your listening heart soars high where joy takes flight,
And sorrows with the lowliness of grief.
The spirit singing with this radiant voice
Will surely find its own cause to rejoice. [unnumbered page]
Come lie with me upon the sand
And watch the clouds put out to sea,
Wing with the gulls along the land,
Come lie with me.
Come stride with me along the shore
And hear the grey sandpiper’s cry,
There will be none to catch the sun
But you and I.
The moon’s slim lifted finger there,
Beckons us on to where the free
And quiet stars hold converse with
Eternity. [unnumbered page]
Lost child of sunlight
Smiling here alone,
To hear the bullfrog lift his raucous voice
How long then,
Till you come unto your own?
Marsh marigolds have left the rushes
For the roses,
In my garden:
Wild iris bloom beside my tulip bed,
And even red, red
Columbine has come down from the hills,
To find the soil is just as sweet
Among my daffodils.
I think you have a kingdom of your own,
Where the pool is dark and deep,
And all the lovely things we dream in sleep,
Shadows of hopes, of castles towering high
In Spain, unconquered by the bitterness of time,
Are with you for your keeping.
And so you lift your chalice to the sky,
Spilling your hold
Into the summer sun,
Where no one is to search the wealth you hold
But swooping crane and lonely dragonfly.