What price serenity these cruel days?
Your silence and ungiving, my small cries,
Followed by hours when I can lift some praise
And make the wound sing as in Paradise.
What price the poise you ask for, the unharried?
Four rooted years torn up without a qualm,
A past not dead perhaps, but quickly buried:
On one side anguish, on the other calm,
Both terrible because deprived of hope
Like living eyes still open in a grave.
And we shall lunch, you say, that is our scope.
Between what we have lost and still might save
Lies, very quiet, what was once too human,
And lovely, and beloved, a living woman.
So drive back hating Love and loving Hate
To where, until we met, they had been thrown
Since infancy: forever lock that gate
And let them lacerate themselves alone,
Wild animals we never learned to tame,
But faced in growing anguish through the mist,
Elusive beasts we did not dare to name,
And whom we could not dominate or trust.
Now we bury childish hunger, childish greed
In play-pen, zoo-pen, whatever pen will hold
The wild frustration and the starving need:
This is your method, so I have been told.
And mine? Stand fast, and face the animal
With the full force and pardon of the soul.
The cat sleeps on my desk in the pale sun;
Long bands of light lie warm across the floor.
I have come back into my world of no one,
This house where the long silences restore
The essence and to time its real dimension;
All I have lost or squandered I examine
Free of the wars and long searing tension;
And I am nourished here after the famine.
Though this was time that we had planned to spend
Together, circled on the calendars,
To walk my woods for one weekend,
Last night I looked alone at the bright stars.
Nor time, nor absence breaks this world in two.
You hold me in your heart, as I hold you.
Now silence, silence, silence, and within it
The leap of spirit upward and beyond;
We take the heart's world in our hands and spin it
Out to the distant stars above this ground,
And let it go at last, and let it go
With those illusions that we held too long;
Against our will now we are forced to grow
And push out from all safety into song.
This is one half of it, the saving grace;
The other, the dark struggle, as, like worms,
We riddle darkness, tunnel some small space
Where we can lie with patience through the storms.
And of these two, who knows where wisdom lies,
Deep in the earth, or wondering the skies?