And So, I Think, Diogenes

I told them to look at an apple-tree
In a gust of blossom. They could not see.

I told them to notice people's faces
In quiet, unexpected places;

To catch the flying speech of eyes,
And stumble on some young surprise

Of joy as sharp as any dawn
Or afternoon across a lawn.

I told them to look at a thin, white steeple
Soaring above a throng of people,

And listen to the people's cheers
When some one spoke. They had no ears.

Instead, they led me to a hill
Above a bay. The noon was still.

The water in the bay was cold;
The hanging air was slack with mould.

Gravestones were scattered through the grass
So close there was no room to pass

For any save the narrow dead
Who need no paths on which to tread.

Each scraggy gravestone bore a name
And some brief episode of fame,

Some pious irony of grief,
Draped in the tatters of belief.

Misshapen flowers stood awry,
Too weak to face the staring sky.

The wind upon that barren hill
Was strangely sleek and strangely still.

A dreary shadow crept and crept
Across the gaunt graves where they slept

Who died so many years ago
And lay here softly, row on row,
With nowhere else at all to go.
...

They led me up and down the hill.
They said no word. The dusk was chill.

They left me at the edge of town;
They gazed at me and up and down.

Their eyes were ghastly white and cool
Like fishes in a frozen pool.

They left me where I stood, and bent
With feverish ague, turned and went

Back to the hill. " But they are dead,
They do but wander home, " I said.
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