Treasure Island

Yvor Winters

(1900 - 1968 / United States)

To the Holy Spirit


Immeasurable haze:
The desert valley spreads
Up golden river-beds
As if in other days.
Trees rise and thin away,
And past the trees, the hills,
Pure line and shade of dust,
Bear witness to our wills:
We see them, for we must;
Calm in deceit, they stay.

High noon returns the mind
Upon its local fact:
Dry grass and sand; we find
No vision to distract.
Low in the summer heat,
Naming old graves, are stones
Pushed here and there, the seat
Of nothing, and the bones
Beneath are similar:
Relics of lonely men,
Brutal and aimless, then,
As now, irregular.

These are thy fallen sons,
Thou whom I try to reach.
Thou whom the quick eye shuns,
Thou dost elude my speech.
But when I go from sense
And trace thee down in thought,
I meet thee, then, intense
And know thee as I ought.
But thou art mind alone,
And I, alas, am bound
Pure mind to flesh and bone
And flesh and bone to ground.

These had no thought: at most
Dark faith and blinding earth.
Where is the trammeled ghost?
Was there another birth?
Only one certainty
Beside thine unfleshed eye,
Beside the spectral tree,
Can I discern: these die.
All of this stir of age,
Though it elude my sense
Into what heritage
I know not, seems to fall
Quiet beyond recall,
Into irrelevance.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Brian Jani (7/12/2014 12:04:00 PM)

    this poem is skilfully penned.i like how versatile you are when it comes to word use. (Report) Reply

  • Nick Capozzoli (4/18/2009 9:47:00 PM)

    Readers may be turned off by the diction...the 'thou' and 'thee...' but what is said is quite fine. (Report) Reply

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