Stephen Vincent Benet

(1898 - 1943 / Pennsylvania / United States)

Road And Hills - Poem by Stephen Vincent Benet

I shall go away
To the brown hills, the quiet ones,
The vast, the mountainous, the rolling,
Sun-fired and drowsy!

My horse snuffs delicately
At the strange wind;
He settles to a swinging trot; his hoofs tramp the dust.
The road winds, straightens,
Slashes a marsh,
Shoulders out a bridge,
Then --
Again the hills.
Unchanged, innumerable,
Bowing huge, round backs;
Holding secret, immense converse:
In gusty voices,
Fruitful, fecund, toiling
Like yoked black oxen.

The clouds pass like great, slow thoughts
And vanish
In the intense blue.

My horse lopes; the saddle creaks and sways.
A thousand glittering spears of sun slant from on high.
The immensity, the spaces,
Are like the spaces
Between star and star.

The hills sleep.
If I put my hand on one,
I would feel the vast heave of its breath.
I would start away before it awakened
And shook the world from its shoulders.
A cicada's cry deepens the hot silence.
The hills open
To show a slope of poppies,
Ardent, noble, heroic,
A flare, a great flame of orange;
Giving sleepy, brittle scent
That stings the lungs.
A creeping wind slips through them like a ferret; they bow and dance,
answering Beauty's voice . . .

The horse whinnies. I dismount
And tie him to the grey worn fence.
I set myself against the javelins of grass and sun;
And climb the rounded breast,
That flows like a sea-wave.
The summit crackles with heat, there is no shelter, no hollow from
the flagellating glare.

I lie down and look at the sky, shading my eyes.
My body becomes strange, the sun takes it and changes it, it does not feel,
it is like the body of another.
The air blazes. The air is diamond.
Small noises move among the grass . . .

Blackly,
A hawk mounts, mounts in the inane
Seeking the star-road,
Seeking the end . . .
But there is no end.

Here, in this light, there is no end. . .


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Read poems about / on: horse, star, sun, wind, dance, silence, beauty, sleep, sea, sky, light, change



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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