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- Nets to Catch the Wind - 5/6 -


If you are flame, it dances and burns blue; If you are light, it pierces like a star Intenser than a needlepoint of ice. The dexterous touch that shaped the soul of you, Mingled, to mix, and make you what you are, Magic between the sugar and the spice.

A PROUD LADY

Hate in the world's hand Can carve and set its seal Like the strong blast of sand Which cuts into steel.

I have seen how the finger of hate Can mar and mold Faces burned passionate And frozen cold.

Sorrowful faces worn As stone with rain, Faces writhing with scorn And sullen with pain.

But you have a proud face Which the world cannot harm, You have turned the pain to a grace And the scorn to a charm.

You have taken the arrows and slings Which prick and bruise And fashioned them into wings For the heels of your shoes.

From the world's hand which tries To tear you apart You have stolen the falcon's eyes And the lion's heart.

What has it done, this world, With hard finger tips, But sweetly chiseled and curled Your inscrutable lips?

THE TORTOISE IN ETERNITY

Within my house of patterned horn I sleep in such a bed As men may keep before they're born And after they are dead.

Sticks and stones may break their bones, And words may make them bleed; There is not one of them who owns An armor to his need.

Tougher than hide or lozenged bark, Snow-storm and thunder proof, And quick with sun, and thick with dark, Is this my darling roof.

Men's troubled dreams of death and birth Pulse mother-o'-pearl to black; I bear the rainbow bubble Earth Square on my scornful back.

INCANTATION

A white well In a black cave; A bright shell In a dark wave.

A white rose Black brambles hood; Smooth bright snows In a dark wood.

A flung white glove In a dark fight; A white dove On a wild black night.

A white door In a dark lane; A bright core To bitter black pain.

A white hand Waved from dark walls; In a burnt black land Bright waterfalls.

A bright spark Where black ashes are; In the smothering dark One white star.

SILVER FILIGREE

The icicles wreathing On trees in festoon Swing, swayed to our breathing: They're made of the moon.

She's a pale, waxen taper; And these seem to drip Transparent as paper From the flame of her tip.

Molten, smoking a little, Into crystal they pass; Falling, freezing, to brittle And delicate glass.

Each a sharp-pointed flower, Each a brief stalactite Which hangs for an hour In the blue cave of night.

THE FALCON

Why should my sleepy heart be taught To whistle mocking-bird replies? This is another bird you've caught, Soft-feathered, with a falcon's eyes.

The bird Imagination, That flies so far, that dies so soon; Her wings are colored like the sun, Her breast is colored like the moon.

Weave her a chain of silver twist, And a little hood of scarlet wool, And let her perch upon your wrist, And tell her she is beautiful.

BRONZE TRUMPETS AND SEA WATER-- ON TURNING LATIN INTO ENGLISH

Alembics turn to stranger things Strange things, but never while we live Shall magic turn this bronze that sings To singing water in a sieve.

The trumpeters of Caesar's guard Salute his rigorous bastions With ordered bruit; the bronze is hard Though there is silver in the bronze.

Our mutable tongue is like the sea, Curled wave and shattering thunder-fit; Dangle in strings of sand shall be Who smooths the ripples out of it.

SPRING PASTORAL

Liza, go steep your long white hands In the cool waters of that spring Which bubbles up through shiny sands The color of a wild-dove's wing.

Dabble your hands, and steep them well Until those nails are pearly white Now rosier than a laurel bell; Then come to me at candle-light.

Lay your cold hands across my brows, And I shall sleep, and I shall dream Of silver-pointed willow boughs Dipping their fingers in a stream.


Nets to Catch the Wind - 5/6

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