Birches

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells

'It Might Have Been'

We will be what we could be. Do not say,
'It might have been, had not this, or that, or this.'
No fate can keep us from the chosen way;
He only might who is.

We will do what we could do. Do not dream
Chance leaves a hero, all uncrowned to grieve.
I hold, all men are greatly what they seem;
He does, who could achieve.

Internally Displaced Persons (Idps)

They leave their homes
Unwillingly forced
And follow their fate
Through fields and trails
Massifs and woods
With all their goods
Love and hate
Mores and tales
All in bales
Carrying their own

A Servant To Servants

I didn't make you know how glad I was
To have you come and camp here on our land.
I promised myself to get down some day
And see the way you lived, but I don't know!
With a houseful of hungry men to feed
I guess you'd find.... It seems to me
I can't express my feelings any more
Than I can raise my voice or want to lift
My hand (oh, I can lift it when I have to).
Did ever you feel so? I hope you never.

A Process In The Weather Of The Heart

A process in the weather of the heart
Turns damp to dry; the golden shot
Storms in the freezing tomb.
A weather in the quarter of the veins
Turns night to day; blood in their suns
Lights up the living worm.

A process in the eye forwarns
The bones of blindness; and the womb
Drives in a death as life leaks out.

The Loss Of Love

All through an empty place I go,
And find her not in any room;
The candles and the lamps I light
Go down before a wind of gloom.
Thick-spraddled lies the dust about,
A fit, sad place to write her name
Or draw her face the way she looked
That legendary night she came.

The old house crumbles bit by bit;

I Am Waiting

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting
for someone to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting

Heaven-Haven

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail,
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

Andy's Gone With Cattle


Our Andy's gone to battle now
'Gainst Drought, the red marauder;
Our Andy's gone with cattle now
Across the Queensland border.

He's left us in dejection now;
Our hearts with him are roving.
It's dull on this selection now,
Since Andy went a-droving.

An April Day

When the warm sun, that brings
Seed-time and harvest, has returned again,
'T is sweet to visit the still wood, where springs
The first flower of the plain.

I love the season well,
When forest glades are teeming with bright forms,
Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell
The coming-on of storms.

A Letter Home

(To Robert Graves)

I

Here I'm sitting in the gloom
Of my quiet attic room.
France goes rolling all around,
Fledged with forest May has crowned.
And I puff my pipe, calm-hearted,
Thinking how the fighting started,

White Clouds

White clouds
Morphing wonderfully
Watch those bears
Changing into
Rows of elephants
Shaping like
A frail old man standing
Rearranging into children
Playing with balloons.

A Goodnight

Go to sleep- though of course you will not-
to tideless waves thundering slantwise against
strong embankments, rattle and swish of spray
dashed thirty feet high, caught by the lake wind,
scattered and strewn broadcast in over the steady
car rails! Sleep, sleep! Gulls' cries in a wind-gust
broken by the wind; calculating wings set above
the field of waves breaking.
Go to sleep to the lunge between foam-crests,
refuse churned in the recoil. Food! Food!

I Know The Music

All sounds have been as music to my listening:
Pacific lamentations of slow bells,
The crunch of boots on blue snow rosy-glistening,
Shuffle of autumn leaves; and all farewells:

Bugles that sadden all the evening air,
And country bells clamouring their last appeals
Before [the] music of the evening prayer;
Bridges, sonorous under carriage wheels.

A Summer Afternoon

A languid atmosphere, a lazy breeze,
With labored respiration, moves the wheat
From distant reaches, till the golden seas
Break in crisp whispers at my feet.

My book, neglected of an idle mind,
Hides for a moment from the eyes of men;
Or lightly opened by a critic wind,
Affrightedly reviews itself again.

In Reference To Her Children

I had eight birds hatched in one nest,
Four cocks there were, and hens the rest.
I nursed them up with pain and care,
Nor cost, nor labour did I spare,
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the trees, and learned to sing;
Chief of the brood then took his flight
To regions far and left me quite.
My mournful chirps I after send,
Till he return, or I do end:

Human Life’s Mystery

We sow the glebe, we reap the corn,
We build the house where we may rest,
And then, at moments, suddenly,
We look up to the great wide sky,
Inquiring wherefore we were born…
For earnest or for jest?

The senses folding thick and dark
About the stifled soul within,
We guess diviner things beyond,

A Father To His Son

A father sees his son nearing manhood.
What shall he tell that son?
'Life is hard; be steel; be a rock.'
And this might stand him for the storms
and serve him for humdrum monotony
and guide him among sudden betrayals
and tighten him for slack moments.
'Life is a soft loam; be gentle; go easy.'
And this too might serve him.
Brutes have been gentled where lashes failed.

Love And War

Lovers all are soldiers, and Cupid has his campaigns:
I tell you, Atticus, lovers all are soldiers.
Youth is fit for war, and also fit for Venus.
Imagine an aged soldier, an elderly lover!
A general looks for spirit in his brave soldiery;
a pretty girl wants spirit in her companions.
Both stay up all night long, and each sleeps on the ground;
one guards his mistress's doorway, one his general's.
The soldier's lot requires far journeys; send his girl,
the zealous lover will follow her anywhere.

Children Of The Street

In their faces a colourless gaping of life's adversity:
the hopeless grief of a hellish existence;
Malnourished, starving, filth and olfactory horrors;  
Their humiliating nothingness clothed in rags;  
Usually barefooted with low self-esteem;  
Begging, and rummaging through garbage for
thrown-away foods to assuage pangs of hunger;
Oftentimes feeling cold that comes from being sickly;
Sleeping or indulging in cheap cocktails of toxic
sedatives at the dark corners of the street: