On undemanding ground Shot through with hollow sounds Bird or bullet make Or some other keen cry, I take This man for model, though in truth A small man of the town; and although His grandfather was a thief And his father worse than that, I respect his grief, for what else can I That wander in the clay? There was a man had died Frozen to the mountainside And, nothing in his climbing pack And less upon his withered back, He ascended the wintry peak Sang a rich bar tune and died. It was out of pride The old man had died. He gripped a flute, knew God's great lie, And had a clarity in the eye. And at the last, a damned wretched gaiety Suffused his frame. Mountain echo upon echo Hollowed out his fame; Dying, trying once again To empty himself of troubles by the score-- "This joy of death Stops the breath." In the trees, excited laughter; And after, the silence.
NOTE: this poem originally published in “Constellations in December.”