Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ancestral Voices

In the old dark the late dark the still deep shadow
that had travelled silently along itself all night
while the small stars of spring were yet to be seen and the few
lamps burned by themselves with no expectations
far down through the valley suddenly the voice
of the blackbird came believing in the habit
of the light until the torn shadows of the ridges
that had gone out one behind the other into the darkness
began appearing again still asleep surfacing in their
dream and the stars all at once were gone and instead the song
of the blackbird flashed through the unlit boughs and far
out in the oaks a nightingale went on echoing
itself drawing out its own invisible starlight
these voices were lifted here long before the first
of our kind had come to be able to listen
and with the faint light in the dew of the infant
leaves goldfinches flew out from their nests in the brambles
they had chosen their colors for the day and they sang
of themselves which was what they had wakened to remember

-W.S. Merwin, from The Vixen (1996)

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