The Haywain Poem by Ernest Hilbert

The Haywain

Bosch’s demons, roosting against
The luminous sky of the Low Countries,
Emerge shaped of stone or dirty light,
Perched atop the haywain blowing
Long slender horns. These jigging imps,
Eager to guide peasants from their

Rustic scenery to another unknowable one,
Are themselves missing or far
From a place that seems not to
Have needed them so much as their bounty,
Collected from the breakable flesh of Europe.
Even in soot-straked valleys of perdition

On a triptych’s flanking panel they
Dance in a different air. Lodged into
This bright world without permission,
Forced into frail surfaces like granite,
They exist in the dusty glare and rabbled
Foreground as if for a briefest moment

Or else all eternity, divided from
True rhythms of this flowering world,
Dominion of toil, sweat, vanity,
Compel the eye to grasp with greater precision
The shades and desire of the human portion,
To comprehend more surely what belongs among us.

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