From far a light, maybe a hill ranch
remote and unvisited, beams on the horizon
when we pass; then it is gone.
For the rest of our lives that far place
waits; it’s an increment, one more
hollow that slips by out there, almost
a gift, an acquaintance taken away.
Still, beyond all ranches the deep
night waits, breathing when we breathe,
always ready to offer new light,
over and over, so long as we search
for something so faint most people
won’t know, even when it is found.
from Even in Quiet Places, p. 4, by William Stafford
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Aparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
. . . . . . . . . .
The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
THE DARKLING THRUSH
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
MESSIAH (CHRISTMAS PORTIONS)
A little heat caught
in gleaming rags,
in shrouds of veil,
torn and sun-shot swaddlings:
over the Methodist roof,
two clouds propose a Zion
of their own, blazing
(colors of tarnish on copper)