So wide the wells of darkness sink,
These having their own light, that are lost with the light,
Appear immersed in mournfulness over the night,
Like things that in sleep will come to the mind’s brink:
The bright Aldebaran, and seven that hover,
Seven wild and pale, clouding their brightness over,
And the flame that fell with summer, and the rose of stars returning,
Like tears piercing the sky;
Glittering without cause, for the piece of a legend,
Wept, I know not why.
O lovely and forgotten,
Gathered only of sleep,
All night upon the lids set burning,
Shaken from the lids at morning.
[Léonie Adams, Poems: A Selection (1954)]
Bat-song, if we could hear it:
ah, eyrie-ire; aero hour, eh?
O’er our ur-area (our era aye
ere your raw row) we air our array
err, yaw, row wry—aura our orrery,
our eerie ü our ray, our arrow.
A rare ear, our aery Yahweh.
[from Les Murray, “Bats’ Ultrasound,” in The Daylight Moon and Other Poems. Full poem at lesmurray.org]
Take from my palms, to soothe your heart,
a little honey, a little sun,
in obedience to Persephone’s bees.
You can’t untie a boat that was never moored,
nor hear a shadow in its furs,
nor move through thick life without fear.
For us, all that’s left is kisses
tattered as the little bees
that die when they leave the hive.
Deep in the transparent night they’re still humming,
at home in the dark wood on the mountain,
in the mint and lungwort and the past.
But lay to your heart my rough gift,
this unlovely dry necklace of dead bees
that once made a sun out of honey. –November 1920
[Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam (tr. Clarence Brown & W.S. Merwin, 1973)]
Writing is planting.
Writing is born in the lands of wet-farming.
The field prefigures the table and page.
The garden prefigures the table and page.
from the domestication of water.
Rain and the sea
are the mothers of letters.
The mind of the scribe
moves like a long-legged waterbird,
stoops like a rice-farmer, steps like a crane.
When you next see the hunters,
say to the hunters:
O say can you see
how the earth is rewritten
under our hands
until it says nothing?
Say to the hunters: the herders
have taught us the metres, but we
have forgotten. Say to the hunters:
Teach us a song
as subtle as speaking, teach us
a song as lean and as changeable
as the world.
[Robert Bringhurst, The Blue Roofs of Japan:
a Score for Interpenetrating Voices (1986)]