Unicorn 4 - Poem by Michael Shepherd
What is known, is known – known gently,
meekly, mildly, sweetly; that’s the experience
that men bring back who’ve seen that creature plain.
But since the unicorn grazes in all our minds and hearts,
each has his image. Poets love to write of that creature
as they picture it; but what of those who met it plain
in forest glade, upon the hills, or white amidst the waves?
It’s said that, then, some poets put away their pens forever or awhile,
despairing that their word-hoard holds no words
that can describe those things invisible which
that creature brings to the mind, when met;
some can no longer give it even a name
as if that very word can seem to falsify.
They’re asked, was it, just, beautiful? – and hesitate,
because what yesterday, was ‘beautiful’ is a different word
today; that creature shows them that a word
means what it does; today, ‘beauty’ has done more in them;
it speaks a unity which is not static – can do all things
as Helen’s beauty, so we’re told, could make a war from peace;
so beauty can make peace from war – as poets prove.
And so, those who’ve seen it plain but wish
to say no word that might be less than truth
find that its subtle magic guides their pen
so that they may write with that same ease
with which that creature lives,
write of any, and of all things.
And all who’ve seen it – who’ve seen it move
within the utter stillness of itself
as never before have they seen a creature move
and hold that in themselves, wish, wordless, to return
to be again in that creature’s still shared self-presence;
the wisest of them finally to find
that it may graze forever in the poet’s mind.
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