These are poems for fathers and grandfathers, written by Michael R. Burch.
by Michael R. Burch
This poem is dedicated to my grandfather, George Edwin Hurt Sr.
Between the prophecies of morning
and twilight’s revelations of wonder,
the sky is ripped asunder.
The moon lurks in the clouds,
waiting, as if to plunder
the dusk of its lilac iridescence,
and in the bright-tentacled sunset
we imagine a presence
full of the fury of lost innocence.
Yellow dust on a bumble
Grey lights in a woman's
Red ruins in the changing
I take you and pile high
Death will break her claws
on some I keep.
In the fair morning of his life,
When his pure heart lay in his breast,
Panting, with all that wild unrest
To plunge into the great world's strife
That fills young hearts with mad desire,
He saw a sunset. Red and gold
The burning billows surged and rolled,
And upward tossed their caps of fire.
He looked. And as he looked the sight
Sent from his soul through breast and brain
Such intense joy, it hurt like pain.
His heart seemed bursting with delight.
So near the Unknown seemed, so close
Twilight on Sixth Avenue at Ninth Street
Over the tops of the houses
Twilight and sunset meet.
The green, diaphanous dusk
Sinks to the eager street.
Astray in the tangle of roofs
Wanders a wind of June.
The dial shines in the clock-tower
Like the face of a strange-scrawled moon.
The narrowing lines of the houses
Palely begin to gleam,
And the hurrying crowds fade softly
Like an army in a dream.
Above the vanishing faces
A phantom train flares on
Twilight in the Garden
The scent of the earth is moist and good
In the dewy shade
Of the tall, dark poplars whose slender tops
Against the sunset bloom are laid,
And a robin is whistling in the copse
By the dim spruce wood.
The west wind blowing o'er branch and flower
Out of the wold,
Steals through the honeysuckle bower
And bears away on its airy wings
Odors that breath of paradise;
Dim are the poppies' splendid dyes,
But many a pallid primrose swings
Its lamp of gold.
Twilight in the Alps
I love the hour that comes, with dusky hair
And dewy feet, along the Alpine dells
To lead the cattle forth. A thousand bells
Go chiming after her across the fair
And flowery uplands, while the rosy flare
Of sunset on the snowy mountain dwells,
And valleys darken, and the drowsy spells
Of peace are woven through the purple air.
Dear is the magic of this hour: she seems
To walk before the dark by falling rills,
And lend a sweeter song to hidden streams;
She opens all the doors of night, and fills
Twilight and I Went Hand in Hand
Twilight and I went hand in hand,
As lovers walk in shining Mays,
O'er musky, memory-haunted ways,
Across a lonely harvest-land,
Where west winds chanted in the wheat
An old, old vesper wondrous sweet.
Oh, Twilight was a comrade rare
For gypsy heath or templed grove,
In her gray vesture, shadow-wove;
I saw the darkness of her hair
Faint-mirrored in a field-pool dim,
As we stood tip-toe on its rim.
We went as lightly as on wings
Through many a scented chamber fair,
So Mary died last night! To-day
The news has travelled here.
And Robert died at Michaelmas,
And Walter died last year.
I went at sunset up the lane,
I lingered by the stile;
I saw the dusky fields that stretched
Before me many a mile.
I leaned against the stile, and thought
Of her whose soul had fled--
I knew that years on years must pass
Or e'er I should be dead.
From vales of dawn hath Day pursued the Night
Who mocking fled, swift-sandalled, to the west,
Nor ever lingered in her wayward flight
With dusk-eyed glance to recompense his quest,
But over crocus hills and meadows gray
Sped fleetly on her way.
Now when the Day, shorn of his failing strength,
Hath fallen spent before the sunset bars,
The fair, wild Night, with pity touched at length,
Crowned with her chaplet of out-blossoming stars,
Creeps back repentantly upon her way
To kiss the dying Day.
‘COME, before the summer passes
Let us seek the mountain land:’
So they called me, happy playmates,
And we left the dawn-lit strand:
Riding on till later sunbeams slanted
On dark hills and downward-plunging streams,
And the solemn forest softly chanted
Old, old dreams.
From the pass, we saw in glory
Wave on purple wave unrolled
To the cloud-encircled summit
Floating high, alone and cold:
Like that altar-stone, by men of Athens