Ars Poetica

it is addressed thusly:
A thought.
it reads:
We should stray not too far
In our wandering star to star
From the song which sounded first
And brought us to poetry's door
Awake with an unknown thirst
We knew that we must have more;

Can we sing all that we have spoke
And can we sleep once we've awoke--
And known the confluence of sound
And thought which made it true--
Not empty speech we had found
Once-heard, we then always knew?

So turn again, men of song
And you will have done no wrong
With rhythm you must count in time
Mere sentiment will only mar
Distill not away simple rhyme
From this then, stray not too far.



it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
Breathe deep my friend, in the night
Breathe deep in the morning light
The sun comes up and the moon goes down
So long as the world is going round;
Rising and falling the cloaking mist
Cover and uncover what the sun has kissed
And make heard sounds of a distant place
Which come twenty feet yet from our face;
The Ever-Near - the things in the rain
The far-and-near become one again
Such a breath is the spirits of spring
The shadow of a bird now on the wing
Whose alighting is a certain-uncertain sound
In this cool chamber in which we've found
The crush of stone beneath our foot
Or the shining road else black as soot
Which calls us on, to another world
Though twenty feet ahead it is unfurled
We dwell no more in night and day
Though we see not yet a starry way
Such stars but a glimpse of settled mist
Vanishing whereupon the sun has kissed
And sound returns, and shadow returns
And wise is the man who yet discerns
Whether on this road it is day or night
What he may see in uncertain light--
So sound, so shadow must disappear
Then what remains is the Ever-Near.


By The Waters of Babylon

it is addressed thusly:

A song.
it reads:
We are strangers in a land unstrange
It looks like it once was ours
Caught in its sleepy lagrange
With odd and uncertain stars;
We sit by the waters and weep
But no sound had mustered a cry
In solemnity, silence we keep
As the somnolent waters go by;
Asking from us but a song
The alien cant made correct
For folly alone made him strong
And his will is now quite direct;
But no is the answer we give
No to the moon and the stars
We cannot sing who still live
In a land that is no more ours;
If in time we had come to forget
What by troth a city had meant
What a king, a kingdom and yet
What else dark heaven had sent;
May our hand never rise ere again
Not to plow and never to sword
If we forget! Are we men --
Or arrears no man could afford;
But you, O folly of might
Though heaven be dark we recall
O our succor, O our light
Whose face makes the mighty to fall;
Blessed is he when he comes
To make life from lifeless bones
And takes all your little ones
And dashes them on the stones.
a postscript is here written:
"By the waters of Babylon" is a classical Christian lenten theme; in Great Lent we experience our estrangement through our ascetic struggle; but more poignantly, any man who is not progressive finds himself not a stranger in a strange land, but a stranger in his own home, now occupied by rude, often foolish foreigners. He has no king, no altar, and no sacrifice. Even more, he has no voice, because if he did he would speak only one word: ruin.