Three songs

i

The women tell me, 'Man, you're old;
don't be so bold.
Look into a mirror
to make it clearer:
your hair
ain't there.'

But I can't see what lies
above my eyes.
I do see more reason to play the game,
when Death takes aim.

ii

If wealth with all its money
could make us never die,
I'd give my life to earning,
and then, when Death came by,

I'd pay him and forget him.
But there's no way to spend
yourself into forever.


Three poems by heart

I

I can't find the title
of a memory about you
with a hand torn from darkness
I step on fragments of faces

soft friendly profiles
frozen into a hard contour

circling above my head
empty as a forehead of air
a man's silhouette of black paper

II

living--despite
living- -against
I reproach myself for the sin of forgetfulness

you left an embrace like a superfluous sweater
a look like a question

our hands won't transmit the shape of your hands


Thoreau

WHO nearer Nature’s life would truly come
Must nearest come to him of whom I speak;
He all kinds knew,—the vocal and the dumb;
Masterful in genius was he, and unique,
Patient, sagacious, tender, frolicsome.
This Concord Pan would oft his whistle take,
And forth from wood and fen, field, hill, and lake,
Trooping around him in their several guise,
The shy inhabitants their haunts forsake:
Then he, like Æsop, man would satirize,
Hold up the image wild to clearest view


Thermoregulation in Winter Moths

How do the winter moths survive when other moths die? What enables them to avoid freezing as they rest, and what makes it possible for them to fly -- and so to seek food and mates -- in the cold?
Bernd Heinrich, Scientific American

1. The Himalayas

The room lies there, immaculate, bone light
on white walls, shell-pink carpet, and pale, too,
are the wrists and hands of professors gathered
in the outer hall where behind darkness
and a mirror they can observe unseen.
They were told: high in the Himalayas


The Winding Stair

My Soul. I summon to the winding ancient stair;
Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
Upon the breathless starlit air,
'Upon the star that marks the hidden pole;
Fix every wandering thought upon
That quarter where all thought is done:
Who can distinguish darkness from the soul

My Self. The consecretes blade upon my knees
Is Sato's ancient blade, still as it was,
Still razor-keen, still like a looking-glass
Unspotted by the centuries;


The Worship of Nature

The harp at Nature's advent strung
Has never ceased to play;
The song the stars of morning sung
Has never died away.

And prayer is made, and praise is given,
By all things near and far;
The ocean looketh up to heaven,
And mirrors every star.

Its waves are kneeling on the strand,
As kneels the human knee,
Their white locks bowing to the sand,
The priesthood of the sea!

They pour their glittering treasures forth,
Their gifts of pearl they bring,


Theology in Extremis Or a soliloquy that may have been delivered in India, June, 1857

"They would have spared life to any of their English prisoners who should consent to profess Mahometanism, by repeating the usual short formula; but only one half-caste cared to save himself in that way." -- Extract from an Indian newspaper.


MORITURUS LOQUITUR.

Oft in the pleasant summer years,
Reading the tales of days bygone,
I have mused on the story of human tears,
All that man unto man had done,
Massacre, torture, and black despair;
Reading it all in my easy-chair.


Then Was My Neophyte

Then was my neophyte,
Child in white blood bent on its knees
Under the bell of rocks,
Ducked in the twelve, disciple seas
The winder of the water-clocks
Calls a green day and night.
My sea hermaphrodite,
Snail of man in His ship of fires
That burn the bitten decks,
Knew all His horrible desires
The climber of the water sex
Calls the green rock of light.

Who in these labyrinths,
This tidethread and the lane of scales,
Twine in a moon-blown shell,
Escapes to the flat cities' sails


The World is a Playground

I perceive the world as a playground
Where dawn and dusk appear in eternal rounds
In His Universal form is a plaything the throne of Solomon
The miracles of the Messiah seem so ordinary in my eyes
Without name I cannot comprehend any form
Illusionary but is the identity of all objects
My anguish envelopes the entire desert
Silently flows the river in front of my floods
Ask not what separation has done to me
Just see your poise when I come in front of you
Truly you say that I am egotistical and proud


The Wood Pool

Here is a voice that soundeth low and far
And lyric­voice of wind among the pines,
Where the untroubled, glimmering waters are,
And sunlight seldom shines.

Elusive shadows linger shyly here,
And wood-flowers blow, like pale, sweet spirit-bloom,
And white, slim birches whisper, mirrored clear
In the pool's lucent gloom.

Here Pan might pipe, or wandering dryad kneel
To view her loveliness beside the brim,
Or laughing wood-nymphs from the byways steal
To dance around its rim.


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