The liberal arts lie eastward of this shore.
Choppy the waves at first. Then the long swells
And the being lost. Oh, centuries of salt
Till the surf booms again, and comes more land.
Not even there, except that old men point
At passes up the mountains. Over which,
Oh, centuries of soil, with olive trees
For twisted shade, and helicons for sound.
Then eastward seas, boned with peninsulas.
Then, orient, the islands, and at last,
The cave, the seven sleepers. Who will rise
And sing to you in numbers till you know
White magic. Which remember. Do you hear?
Oh, universe of sand that you must cross,
And animal the night. But do not rest.
The centuries are stars, and stud the way.
-Mark Van Doren (1894-1972)
whisper what you know.
I am molten sand,
I will expand to contain your secrets.
A long time
I have turned in the furnace.
Now the viscous bulb of my ear glows red.
Put your mouth to the pipe and speak.
while I open and shimmer at your voice.
-Lisa Huffaker (?)
Talk of passion is a winter thing,
a huddle of girls, descending wind.
There is no vehicle in a kiss
to carry fury and originality.
In that wherewithal of mouth
the body greets with cannon
the profundis and halt clamavi
of the virgin. Dying is a kiss,
it has broken me. It rimes with tiger
and the gallow tree.
-Ned O'Gorman (1926-)
One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as 'twere the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.
I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.
I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.
They would not find me changed from him they knew-
Only more sure of all I thought was true.
-Robert Frost (1874-1963)
At night the dead come down to the river to drink.
They unburden themselves of their fears,
their worries for us. They take out the old photographs.
They pat the lines in our hands and tell our futures,
which are cracked and yellow.
Some dead find their way to our houses.
They go up to the attics.
They read the letters they sent us, insatiable
for signs of their love.
They tell each other stories.
They make so much noise
they wake us
as they did when we were children and they stayed up
drinking all night in the kitchen.
-Susan Mitchell (1944-)
Could you, so arrantly of earth, so cool,
With coarse harsh hair and rapid agile pace,
So built to beat boys in a swimming race
Or dive with sheer terns to a salty pool,
So lean, so animally beautiful-
Your breast look sideways like a heifer's face,
And you stand sometimes with a surly grace
And mutinous blue eye-fires like a bull-
Could you from this most envied poise descend,
Moved by some force in me I know not of,
To mix with me and be to me a woman,
Diana down from heaven could not lend
More ecstasy, or fill my faltering human
Heart's hunger with a more celestial love.
-Max Eastman (1883-1969)