Issue 82, Winter 1981
We are not permitted to linger, even with what is most
intimate. From images that are full, the spirit’s
stream plunges down to others that suddenly must be filled;
there are no lakes till eternity. Here, falling
is best. To fall from the mastered emotion
into the guessed-at, and onwards.
To you, O majestic poet, to you the compelling image,
O caster of spells, was a life, entire; when you uttered it
a line snapped shut like fate; there was a death
even in the mildest, and you walked straight into it; but
the god who preceded you led you out and beyond it,
O wandering spirit, most wandering of all! How snugly
the others live in their heated poems and stay,
content, in their narrow similes. Taking pan. Only you
move like the moon. And underneath, the nocturnal landscape
brightens and darkens—your holy, your terrified landscape,
which you feel in departures. No one
gave it away more sublimely, gave it back to the universe
more fully, without any need to hold on. So also,
for years that you no longer counted, holy, you played
with infinite joy, as though it were not inside you, but lay
belonging to no one, all around
on the gentle lawns of the earth, where the godlike children had left it.
Ah, you built what the loftiest spirits have longed for:
free of desire, you laid it, stone upon stone,
till it stood. And when it collapsed, even then
you weren’t bewildered.
Why, after such an eternal man lived, do we still
lack faith in the earthly? and not reverently learn from transience
the emotions for what future
slopes of the heart, in pure space?