Aug 212011

Even now the wrestling winter wind
Struggles in the window's flaw
And the charity of the sun is given over
To night's empty menace.  My fingers
In sympathy with the very ice
Whiten and grow longer atop my coverings,
Hoisting the sheet simply as a wave.
Wind at the casement inks with creaks
What I had kept in lightest sketch,
Rounding to flesh with roars and moans
What I had kept in a whispering skull,
Dawn to dusk inside my soul,
Kept locked below some workaday hum
Whose once-amusing tune now tums in dread.

How can the body breathe when no hope gusts through,
Panicking the shutters to the outward sky?
So my body and my bed lay together stacked,
Mortised mates: the cadaver and mortician's table.
So I lay at the nadir-bottom of my thoughts
That had been high bearers-up before,-
Frothy self-involving silvered clouds
Radiant as watered stones in moonshine;
Now down in the sultry sinkhole bottom
Of a stirless pool no unburdening breeze will bless,
Over-crowed by moss-black cypress trees
Dripping no redemption from their dank,
So I lay, as now I lie in mental projection:
In the reeking warp and bursting of my coffin-box.

Here, in the mire, my meaning is near
My hidden wish insists I miss him,
Cause and consoler of my misery!
A foulish pool of moonlight at my feet
Shifts and shapes into his living shadow,
A sad long form too full of thought;
I stare into the abyss that I have brought.

I cannot speak, weak ghost, frail light
Overmastering me!  All my mind's
But memory of our untold hopes!
Shape of my friend who shaped me so!
Dear ghost, do not go, but let me rehearse
Our storied history to your toneless face;
Face whiter than the day gone blind.

Many hours had we trod the wood, near twins,
In each other's sidewise countenance
Discerning ourselves!  After a little onward way
At a fenny brook stopped up we stopped
Restoring its foot-light laughter to the wood
That under many an autumn's confusion of leaves
Had clotted to brown silence.  Heave
Of hands as wet as their work, as cold unfrozen
As vapored breath!  At the stoppage's heart
In the very bolus of the blockage's glut
A dead raven wormed, fat with drowned maggots
Eating the mealy flesh that could no longer
Hold the wetted velvet of its feathers together.
Its dead eye was as sunken as the pit
Where we buried it.  An office of farewell
Performed perforce in mutual accord
As like our old friendship together then
As unlike our alien parting now,
Never vetted in the abstraction of a vow.

Vengeance and ire are exiles to this mood
That even in the hurricano's house
Leave their livid imprints.  Oh ghost
Called up from the waterspout
Of tears unwept and inly kept
Deliver now no elegy of division
That sunders life from life
And vanquishes the vivid phonemes of our dreams!
O newly denuded world
Bereft of friendship and benefit
Shorn of scorn and sorrow both
That have no object on which to act!

No syllable will tell
The night hauntings your each look has cast
Deep into the telling silence of my soul.
My soul!  And what is that?  A hollow word
More echoed out by poets than looked into.
But when at nighttime and for all the night
I search the remorseful strains of memory
To find some babble that will heal
Beside the note "Forget"- that and that alone
I say is soul- the willful welding
Of has been and is.  If I could recall it all
Neither in melancholy nor high-hearted joy
And leave not one instant back to rot
I'd count myself a thing beyond a day.
How often has the robin's song come to this sill
And I noted it not?  From that oblivion alone
I begin.  Her redbreast puffed with expectation
And with mirth, and song trilled out as water
Spilled serially over the serried rocks.
Flow back up the stone along thou's song!
Let memory's viol play you as a tune
Worn true with loving,
Made soft-edged by your worth, our youth.

Communal comminglings of sun and moon
If each were source and both reflectors.
To've shared what we have given!
Day gathers day in its trooping hoop
And rolls on, agile and endless.
Although the spontaneous waterfall
May loiter at its foaming foot
Distilling a stillness in the tumult's depth-
Even so the swelling pool will whelm the lip
In moon as in noon, seeping the pristine banks
In affectionate and curious insistence.
So what we are flows to what
We must come to be, until our ruddy drops
Beset the universal ocean, whelmed
To give, and give all, and end all giving.

What cares the bee for the blossom's nuzzle?
What cares she or knows she how her work
In honey laid shall see a spring
That she herself shall never know?
Still the flower receives and the bee busily does
Whatever whiteness the one or buzz the other,
Mutually do they do, and mutually know not.
And yet, were they to know, to think, to care
What pause would press between the passions
Of their touch?  What bee might meditate
Alone and unpollinated on some barer branch?
What flower shut to dawn its streaked pinks
So warmly showed to the showering rays before?

The mind remembers each tweet each note
And each soberer lowing of tuba or bassoon
No matter how distant the conductor's commencing click
May seem to present ears and hearers.
All's memorial from the moment of its making
To its last, dashing regretful recall.
No matter how blithely frivolous we live
Or howsoe'er delicate or fleet or half-materialized,
How subtle-soft, how hard to catch or kiss,
How almost nothing as a faded impulse unexplored-
Each unknowing moment of our fluttering is
In amber laid.

Now in my maturer melancholy
I long for the native joyance of my youth:
A sodden blossom beaten by the rain,
I sprang to the sun at its first clearing,
The skyey vault light-washed as a robin's egg,
I, who now am a rude sturdy twig froze round
As a hoop. Too many winters
Has my heaven-intending form laid low,
Frozen with distorted weight to whatever
Brambles crawled along the ministering dirt.
Physician!  How can I find the cure
I knew so well when I did not know
I knew it!  Now within me still I sleep,
A hibernate creature gone to moody caves,-
And cave and creature both wander lost within me!

I wander lost as Oedipus over earth, heartsore
When his crimes had cracked him to his core.
Wavy lengths of my hair sweat matted
To my forehead, heavy with road-dust;
Hair this wild year had left unshorn,
Numberless as the fruitless thoughts
That have pursued me- my own phantom-
As when the mirror presses darkness on my eyes.
Stars of eve, once the ready angels
Of my bedtime prayers, twinkling on my hopes
In looking wonder from the firmament,
Now cast chilly chastisements on my course
And make each way onward a mirror fouled
By the ignorant chance that moved me hence.
Onward naught and rearward naught
And oblivion within!  In such state am I caught.

I am christened "Lost." My want of self
Haunted memory returned re-cleared to me,
As when in a clearest pool silver-laden
I saw what the world saw was me.
And when some minor upset rolls the pool
And puts the silver salver into sine
That self may still be seen in highlights and lows
Distorted but unbroken as it goes
Even unto the edges in an ermine flash.
Be it a leaf that loures upon the plane
Done with autumnal ripening
Or narcissistic lock let down
From avid, too avid, self-scrutiny
The result is still
This unstillness and its bends.

I stare at the soft frost edges of the room,
A moody amanuensis to the moon
Until elegant as a weeping pine
My soul steps from its sleeping source
And all the air is fraught with mist.

This image past of spirited play
Wavers in a mirror rude:
Slipshod appraisal of apprentice days
When love for love's sake came half-amazed
And gazed the neighboring fence half-along
Staring daisies into blotched sun-spots
And not the bright warm things they were
Themselves alone.

A demarcation has occurred- one unloves another.
A "cruel neglect and contemptuous silence ever since."
How can I respond to this new, denuded world?

Oh!  Full many times I myself have seen
The glory's crown that old Coleridge taught-
Self-enhancing shadow of a thought-
When round my fallen shadow's head
A rainbow glory glowed in the snow
As I trudged with my sled up the steep
To the tipped top of the wintry hill
Ready to plunge again like thunder down
Into the gulf from which I'd come.

Convoys to their various destinies post
Finding their ways as they make them
Amid that startlement of the waves-
And to find themselves have lost the fleet
That sent them seaward into mists,
Sharpest demarcation of their long self-pursuit.
Now with more constant heart and firm resolve
My face may bear what winds upbraid me-
Or is this but a lie I level at my will....

The ghost is vanished!  The departed friend
Filtered out the window without a syllable;
I lift myself and follow to the frame.
Is there some silver-tinged disturbance
Adding its fretted lattice to the leaves
Of the windy maples all about?
I cannot speak so well as shout
And fear my voice will only tell
Dead and final as a parting bell.
To the porch then-under stippled skies
I feel the clear vigor of the cold
Where a thousand stars like errless watchers
Pin me to my outpost.  There, there
Hope deludes me with a moment's wish;
It was perhaps some serried sound
Of household dog turning round
To return to his hunter's sleep in peace.
But still some welling white is there
Besides the moon's.  I see it blur
The boldened boundary of the field
Crowded with unfound flowers gone to weed.
Some shape is there-oh surely there-
Not all I know of one is departed yet
Still some mere shred lingers to be loved
And take of me forgiveness in the night.

Block all jealousies-all wrongs-all time
Beside the moment we wear now,
A gown new and mutable to our mutual need.
-One moment's presence is all I ask!
"Come!  Turn your back to me no more, come back!"  
I cry and the cry is like a thundercrack
Inside my grieving skull.  No more turn away!
This night shall be as first light and life
Come from the most high into humanity-
Only let it touch what most remains
Of what we are this instant.  The silver swells
At the field's end, growing larger as my
Charging heart!  Ah yes!  Companion prime
Of hope and heart-high hero of my contemplation
Turn to return!  But wait!  Tis gone, tis fled
All that was of brimming light has burst
And the iron balustrade cuts into my striking thighs
And the alien field lays darkened and undewed.
This single tear has dribbled down my face.
One friend one loss one parting!
Not if all the world were mirror for our woes
Could ten thousand lines tell the tale:
How heart is rent and soul must wail,
How in conversation with a blank
There is no love to conquer all our labors;
Amelioration is stemmed, and dead's the tide
That had flooded all our flotsam and our hopes.
No expectation had been too heavy to be borne
Along the continual susurrations of such a main.
Dawn herself, and her twin, dusk,
Came and went well-colored by the clarity and depth;
The clouds that cooled and shadowed us
Were themselves sustained
By the liquid intercessions of watery faith.

The question of a quisling, of love
Lavished on a lesser thing, the friend departed
Who had been Palestine, home returned
And companion of adventure in a world of deeds,
This artificial death and detriment
Of two who had been connected
At their very source!
The isolated echo made moody and alone
-Gone the solidarity of arms embraced
Twins insistent as the signal sun
To burn our beings brightly and as one.

Now by sympathetic charm of grief
All friendship comes to this belief:
That those who now do love me well
Shall leave me soon in abandoned hell;
Like a rosary I keep these words
Beside me, counted close, and counted
Over again in each hour that I mourn.
Vain words that rehearse this rose
That goes away the way the sunset goes.

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