- I LAY through one long afternoon,
- Vacantly plucking the grass.
- I lay on my back, with steadfast gaze
- Watching the cloud-shapes pass;
- Until the evening's chilly damps
- Rose from the hollows below,
Where the cold marsh-reeds grow.
- I saw the sun sink down behind
- The high point of a mountain;
- Its last light lingered on the weeds
- That choked a shattered fountain,
- Where lay a rotting bird, whose plumes
- Had beat the air in soaring.
- On these things I was poring:--
- The sun seemed like my sense of life,
- Now weak, that was so strong;
- The fountain -- that continual pulse
- Which throbbed with human song:
- The bird lay dead as that wild hope
- Which nerved my thoughts when young.
- These symbols had a tongue,
- And told the dreary lengths of years
- I must drag my weight with me;
- Or be like a mastless ship stuck fast
- On a deep, stagnant sea.
- A man on a dangerous height alone,
- If suddenly struck blind,
- Will never his home path find.
- When divers plunge for ocean's pearls,
- And chance to strike a rock,
- Who plunged with greatest force below
- Receives the heaviest shock.
- With nostrils wide and breath drawn in,
- I rushed resolved on the race;
- Then, stumbling, fell in the chase.
- Yet with time's cycles forests swell
- Where stretched a desert plain:
- Time's cycles make the mountains rise
- Where heaved the restless main:
- On swamps where moped the lonely stork,
- In the silent lapse of time
Stands a city in its prime.
- I thought: then saw the broadening shade
- Grow slowly over the mound,
- That reached with one long level slope
- Down to a rich vineyard ground:
- The air about lay still and hushed,
- As if in serious thought:
But I scarcely heeded aught,
- Till I heard, hard by, a thrush break forth,
- Shouting with his whole voice,
- So that he made the distant air
- And the things around rejoice.
- My soul gushed, for the sound awoke
- Memories of early joy:
I sobbed like a chidden boy.
Last modified 2/22/96