Old plant of Asia—
Holding earth’s leaping sap
In every stem and shoot
That lopped off, sprouts again—
Why should you seek a plateau walled about,
Whose garden is the world?
That day, in the slipping of torsos and straining
on the bloodied ooze of fields plowed by the iron,
And the smoke bluish near earth and bronze in the sunshine
floating like cotton-down,
And the harsh and terrible screaming,
And that strange vibration at the roots of us...
Desire, fierce, like a song...
And we heard
(Do you remember?)
All the Red Cross bands on Fifth avenue
And bugles in little home towns
And children’s harmonicas bleating
(Do you remember?)
The drollery of the wind on our faces,
And horizons reeling,
And the terror of the plain
Heaving like a gaunt pelvis to the sun...
Under us—threshing and twanging
Torn-up roots of the Song...
I see you, refulgent ones,
Burning so steadily
Like big white arc lights...
There are so many of you.
I like to watch you weaving—
Altogether and with precision
Each his ray—
Your tracery of light,
Making a shining way about America.
I note your infinite reactions—
And bits of jet—
And here and there a diamond...
But you do not yet see me,
Who am a torch blown along the wind,
Flickering to a spark
But never out.
Oh, God did cunningly, there at Babel—
Not mere tongues dividing, but soul from soul,
So that never again should men be able
To fashion one infinite, towering whole.
In a little Hungarian cafe
Men and women are drinking
Yellow wine in tall goblets.
Through the milky haze of the smoke,
The fiddler, under-sized, blond,
Leans to his violin
As to the breast of a woman.
Red hair kindles to fire
On the black of his coat-sleeve,
Where his white thin hand
Trembles and dives,
Like a sliver of moonlight,
When wind has broken the water.
Wind, just arisen—
(Off what cool mattress of marsh-moss
In tented boughs leaf-drawn before the stars,
Or niche of cliff under the eagles?)
You of living things,
So gay and tender and full of play—
Why do you blow on my thoughts—like cut flowers
Gathered and laid to dry on this paper, rolled out of dead wood?
I see you
Shaking that flower at me with soft invitation
And frisking away,
Deliciously rumpling the grass...