Late in this cruel season when the sun
scourges alike the city and the fields,
parching the stubble and sinking into slums
where shuttered hovels hide vile appetites,
I venture out alone to drill myself
in what must seem an eerie fencing-match,
duelling in dark corners for a rhyme
and stumbling over words like cobblestones
where now and then realities collide
with lines I dreamed of writing long ago.
What green sickness could stand up to the sun,
that towering foster-father who dissolves
anxieties into air like morning mist,
ripening here a verse and there a rose
with honey on the tongue as in the hive?
Who but the sun persuades the lame to dance
as if their canes were maypoles, governing
the resurrection of the harrowed fields,
and for the secret harvest of the heart
commands immortal wheat to grow again!
When, with a poet’s will, the sun descends
into the cities like a king incognito,
impartially visiting palace and hospital,
the fate of all things vile is glorified.