Zeroing In

"I am a landscape," he said.
"a landscape and a person walking in that landscape.
There are daunting cliffs there,
And plains glad in their way
of brown monotony. But especially
there are sinkholes, places
of sudden terror, of small circumference
and malevolent depths."
"I know," she said. "When I set forth
to walk in myself, as it might be
on a fine afternoon, forgetting,
sooner or later I come to where sedge
and clumps of white flowers, rue perhaps,
mark the bogland, and I know


With Deaths' Prophetic Ear

Lay my rifle here beside me, set my Bible on my breast,
For a moment let the warning bugles cease;
As the century is closing I am going to my rest,
Lord, lettest Thou Thy servant go in peace.
But loud through all the bugles rings a cadence in mine ear,
And on the winds my hopes of peace are strowed.
Those winds that waft the voices that already I can hear
Of the rooi-baatjes singing on the road.

Yes, the red-coats are returning, I can hear the steady tramp,
After twenty years of waiting, lulled to sleep,


Winged Man

The moon, a sweeping scimitar, dipped in the stormy straits,
The dawn, a crimson cataract, burst through the eastern gates,
The cliffs were robed in scarlet, the sands were cinnabar,
Where first two men spread wings for flight and dared the hawk afar.

There stands the cunning workman, the crafty past all praise,
The man who chained the Minotaur, the man who built the Maze.
His young son is beside him and the boy's face is a light,
A light of dawn and wonder and of valor infinite.


When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd

from Memories of President Lincoln

1

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

2

O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night -- O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear'd -- O the black murk that hides the star!


Wherefore

Wherefore in dreams are sorrows born anew,
A healed wound opened, or the past revived?
Last night in my deep sleep I dreamed of you –
Again the old love woke in me, and thrived
On looks of fire, and kisses, and sweet words
Like silver waters purling in a stream,
Or like the amorous melodies of birds:
A dream – a dream.

Again upon the glory of the scene
There settled that dread shadow of the cross
That, when hearts love too well, falls in between –
That warns them of impending woe and loss.


Who Is This Mortal

Who is this mortal
Who ventures to-night
To woo an immortal,
Cold, cold the moon's light
For sleep at this portal,
Bold lover of night.
Fair is the mortal
In soft, silken white,
Who seeks an immortal.
Ah, lover of night,
Be warned at the portal,
And save thee in flight!


Whitsunday

When God of old came down from Heaven,
In power and wrath He came;
Before His feet the clouds were riven,
Half darkness and half flame:

Around the trembling mountain's base
The prostrate people lay;
A day of wrath and not of grace;
A dim and dreadful day.

But when he came the second time,
He came in power and love,
Softer than gale at morning prime
Hovered His holy Dove.

The fires that rushed on Sinai down
In sudden torrents dread,
Now gently light, a glorious crown,


Where's the Poker

The poker lost, poor Susan storm'd,
And all the rites of rage perform'd;
As scolding, crying, swearing, sweating,
Abusing, fidgetting, and fretting.
"Nothing but villany, and thieving;
Good heavens! what a world we live in!
If I don't find it in the morning,
I'll surely give my master warning.
He'd better far shut up his doors,
Than keep such good for nothing whores;
For wheresoe'er their trade they drive,
We vartuous bodies cannot thrive."
Well may poor Susan grunt and groan;


Where is it Clean

when your mother can rise from her place
on the pew during the early service,

early enough that the sun barely fills the sky
with its weak straw, but row after row

in the auditorium is flush with folks who want
to be home before the football game gets underway

or hate the slower pace the later service takes
but still got to get their god on

before starting a new week: when she can rise
and tip down the aisle, three-inch heels

pointing a warning at hell through the plush


When We Two Parted

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sank chill on my brow -
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame:
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell in mine ear;
A shudder come o'er me -
Why wert thou so dear?


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