The people will live on. The learning and blundering people will live on. They will be tricked and sold and again sold And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds, The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback, You can’t laugh off their capacity to take it. The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.
The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic, is a vast huddle with many units saying: “I earn my living. I make enough to get by and it takes all my time. If I had more time I could do more for myself and maybe for others. I could read and study and talk things over and find out about things. It takes time. I wish I had the time.”
The people is a tragic and comic two-face: hero and hoodlum: phantom and gorilla twisting to moan with a gargoyle mouth: “They buy me and sell me…it’s a game…sometime I’ll break loose…”
Once having marched Over the margins of animal necessity, Over the grim line of sheer subsistence Then man came To the deeper rituals of his bones, To the lights lighter than any bones, To the time for thinking things over, To the dance, the song, the story, Or the hours given over to dreaming, Once having so marched.
Between the finite limitations of the five senses and the endless yearnings of man for the beyond the people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food while reaching out when it comes their way for lights beyond the prison of the five senses, for keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death. This reaching is alive. The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it. Yet this reaching is alive yet for lights and keepsakes.
The people know the salt of the sea and the strength of the winds lashing the corners of the earth. The people take the earth as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope. Who else speaks for the Family of Man? They are in tune and step with constellations of universal law. The people is a polychrome, a spectrum and a prism held in a moving monolith, a console organ of changing themes, a clavilux of color poems wherein the sea offers fog and the fog moves off in rain and the labrador sunset shortens to a nocturne of clear stars serene over the shot spray of northern lights.
The steel mill sky is alive. The fire breaks white and zigzag shot on a gun-metal gloaming. Man is a long time coming. Man will yet win. Brother may yet line up with brother.
This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers. There are men who can’t be bought. The fireborn are at home in fire. The stars make no noise, You can’t hinder the wind from blowing. Time is a great teacher. Who can live without hope?
In the darkness with a great bundle of grief the people march. In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people march: “Where to? what next?”
Nancy Hanks dreams by the fire;
Dreams, and the logs sputter,
And the yellow tongues climb.
Red lines lick their way in flickers.
Oh, sputter, logs.
Oh, dream, Nancy.
Time now for a beautiful child.
Time now for a tall man to come.
The wishes on this child’s mouth
Came like snow on marsh cranberries;
The tamarack kept something for her;
The wind is ready to help her shoes.
The north has loved her; she will be
A Grandmother feeding geese on frosty
Mornings; she will understand
Early snow on the cranberries
Better and better then.
I could love you
as dry roots love rain.
I could hold you
as branches in the wind
Forgive me for speaking
. . .
Let your heart look
on white sea spray
and be lonely.
Love is a fool star.
You and a ring of stars
may mention my name
and then forget me.
Love is a fool star.
. . .
There is a troth between us.
A troth means we are to keep
A tryst means we shall drop into
a dappled sea together.
The sea is a grand smooth clamor,
bitter with fish, drowsy with dream
she held herself a deep pool for him
and the shadows crying for him
he gathered himself in many dark waters
and the shadows crying for her
they took each other in shadow meetings
they held themselves in shadow songs
she coiled herself around him
with a ribbon of glass
and a rope of gold
the coils of her cunning held him
with rings of golden glass
with a moon of melting gold
with a mist of sunset ribbons
she wore a blue gown for him once
the fabric flowing with her curves
only the hair of long black eyelashes
flashing naked for his eyes:
a mist of wanting gathered
a black-ice loneliness between them:
she loosened the blue gown
and lay bare before him
a smooth miracle of dawn
a silent shingle of lights--
so they hid themselves
in a winding sheet of passion
in a little hut of shaken walls
she wore a black satin gown for him once
the flow of her hips a poem of night
moving in a dusk of her long eyelashes
standing they held a greeting kiss
murmured of the ritual to come
she lay waiting for him
lifting the black satin
gleaming over a white navel
she drew him in with familiar sheaths
they lay in a room of blood-rose shadows
hearing many clocks in a music of bronze
in flesh tones of a cool vesper twilight
slowly they moved into storm and drums
into a whirl of changing light-spokes
her white torso lost in satin shadows
sank in a moan of white blossoms
in a falling sheen of black moonlight
A lone gray bird,
Alone in the shadows and grandeurs and tumults
Of the night and the sea
And the stars and storms.
Out over the darkness it wavers and hovers,
Out into the gloom it swings and batters,
Out into the wind and the rain and the vast,
Out into the pit of a great black world,
Where fogs are at battle, sky-driven, sea-blown,
Love of mist and rapture of flight,
Glories of chance and hazards of death
On its eager and palpitant wings.
Out into the deep of the great dark world,
Beyond the long borders where foam and drift
Of the sundering waves are lost and gone
On the tides that plunge and rear and crumble.