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- Nets to Catch the Wind - 2/6 -

Than one that'll run like a Hielan' gillie A-linkin' it ower the leas, my laddie, In a raggedy kilt an' a belted plaidie!


Why should this Negro insolently stride Down the red noonday on such noiseless feet? Piled in his barrow, tawnier than wheat, Lie heaps of smoldering daisies, somber-eyed, Their copper petals shriveled up with pride, Hot with a superfluity of heat, Like a great brazier borne along the street By captive leopards, black and burning pied.

Are there no water-lilies, smooth as cream, With long stems dripping crystal? Are there none Like those white lilies, luminous and cool, Plucked from some hemlock-darkened northern stream By fair-haired swimmers, diving where the sun Scarce warms the surface of the deepest pool?


First Traveler: What's that lying in the dust? Second Traveler: A crooked stick. First Traveler: What's it worth, if you can trust To arithmetic? Second Traveler: Isn't this a riddle? First Traveler: No, a trick. Second Traveler: It's worthless. Leave it where it lies. First Traveler: Wait; count ten; Rub a little dust upon your eyes; Now, look again. Second Traveler: Well, and what the devil is it, then? First Traveler: It's the sort of crooked stick that shepherds know. Second Traveler: Some one's loss! First Traveler: Bend it, and you make of it a bow. Break it, a cross. Second Traveler: But it's all grown over with moss!


I always was afraid of Somes's Pond: Not the little pond, by which the willow stands, Where laughing boys catch alewives in their hands In brown, bright shallows; but the one beyond. There, when the frost makes all the birches burn Yellow as cow-lilies, and the pale sky shines Like a polished shell between black spruce and pines, Some strange thing tracks us, turning where we turn.

You'll say I dream it, being the true daughter Of those who in old times endured this dread. Look! Where the lily-stems are showing red A silent paddle moves below the water, A sliding shape has stirred them like a breath; Tall plumes surmount a painted mask of death.



When the world turns completely upside down You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore; We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town. You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold color. Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor, We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.

The winter will be short, the summer long, The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot, Tasting of cider and of scuppernong; All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all. The squirrels in their silver fur will fall Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.


The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold. The misted early mornings will be cold; The little puddles will be roofed with glass. The sun, which burns from copper into brass, Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold Their knitted mufflers; full as they can hold, Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.

Peaches grow wild, and pigs can live in clover; A barrel of salted herrings lasts a year; The spring begins before the winter's over. By February you may find the skins Of garter snakes and water moccasins Dwindled and harsh, dead-white and cloudy-clear.


When April pours the colors of a shell Upon the hills, when every little creek Is shot with silver from the Chesapeake In shoals new-minted by the ocean swell, When strawberries go begging, and the sleek Blue plums lie open to the blackbird's beak, We shall live well--we shall live very well.

The months between the cherries and the peaches Are brimming cornucopias which spill Fruits red and purple, somber-bloomed and black; Then, down rich fields and frosty river beaches We'll trample bright persimmons, while we kill Bronze partridge, speckled quail, and canvas-back.


Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones There's something in this richness that I hate. I love the look, austere, immaculate, Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones. There's something in my very blood that owns Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate, A thread of water, churned to milky spate Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.

I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray, Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meager sheaves; That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath, Summer, so much too beautiful to stay, Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves, And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.


This is the bricklayer; hear the thud Of his heavy load dumped down on stone. His lustrous bricks are brighter than blood, His smoking mortar whiter than bone.

Set each sharp-edged, fire-bitten brick Straight by the plumb-line's shivering length; Make my marvelous wall so thick Dead nor living may shake its strength.

Full as a crystal cup with drink Is my cell with dreams, and quiet, and cool.... Stop, old man! You must leave a chink; How can I breathe? _You can't, you fool!_


I saw a Tiger's golden flank, I saw what food he ate, By a desert spring he drank; The Tiger's name was Hate.

Then I saw a placid Lamb Lying fast asleep; Like a river from its dam Flashed the Tiger's leap.

I saw a Lion tawny-red, Terrible and brave; The Tiger's leap overhead Broke like a wave.

In sand below or sun above He faded like a flame. The Lamb said, "I am Love"; "Lion, tell your name."

The Lion's voice thundering Shook his vaulted breast,

Nets to Catch the Wind - 2/6

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