Poems by Themes •
Random Poem •
The Rating of Poets • The Rating of Poems
Poem by Ina Donna Coolbrith
Was it the sigh and shiver of the leaves? Was it the murmer of the meadow brook, That in and out the reeds and water weeds Slipped silverly, and on their tremulous keys Uttered her many melodies? Or voice Of the far sea, red with the sunset gold, That sang within her shining shores, and sang Within the gate, that in the sunset shone A gate of fire against the outer world? For, ever as I turned the magic page Of that old song the old, blind singer sang Unto the world, when it and song were young— The ripple of the reeds, or odorous, Soft sigh of leaves, or voice of the far sea- A mystical, low murmur, tremulous Upon the wind, came in with musk of rose, The salt breath of the waves, and far, faint smell Of laurel up the slopes of Tamalpais.... “Am I less fair, am I less fair than these, Daughters of far-off seas? Daughters of far-off shores, - bleak, over-blown With foam of fretful tides, with wail and moan Of waves, that toss wild hands, that clasp and beat Wild, desolate hands above the lonely sands, Printed no more with pressure of their feet: That chase no more the light feet flying swift Up golden sands, nor lift Foam fingers white unto their garment hem, And flowing hair of them. “For these are dead: the fair, great queens are dead! The long hair’s gold a dust the wind bloweth Wherever it may list; The curvéd lips, that kissed Heroes and kings of men, a dust that breath, Nor speech, nor laughter, ever guickeneth; And all the glory sped From the large, marvelous eyes, the light whereof Wrought wonder in their hearts, - desire, and love! And wrought not any good: But strife, and curses of the gods, and flood, And fire and battle-death! Am I less fair, less fair, Because that my hands bear Neither a sword, nor any flaming brand, To blacken and make desolate my land, But on my brows are leaves of olive boughs, And in mine arms a dove! “Sea-born and goddess, blossom of the foam Pale Aphrodite, shadowy as a mist Not any sun hath kissed! Tawny of limb I roam, The dusks of forests dark within my hair; The far Yosemite, For garment and for covering me, Wove the white foam and mist, The amber and the rose and amethyst Of her wild fountains, shaken loose in air. And I am of the hills and of the sea: Strong with the strength of my great hills, and calm With calm of the fair sea, whose billowy gold Girdles the land whose queen and love I am! Lo! Am I less than thou, That with a sound of lyres, and harp-playing, Not any voice doth sing The beauty of mine eyelids and my brow? Nor hymn in all my fair and gracious ways, And lengths of golden days, The measure and the music of my praise? “Ah, what indeed is this Old land beyond the seas, that ye should miss For her the grace and majesty of mine? Are not the fruits and vine Fair on my hills, and in my vales the roses? The palm-tree and the pine Strike hands together under the same skies In every wind that blows. What clearer heavens can shine Above the land whereon the shadow lies Of her dead glory, and her slaughtered kings, And lost, evanished gods? Upon my fresh green sods No king has walked to curse and desolate: But in the valleys Freedom sits and sings, And on ths heights above; Upon her brows the leaves of olive boughs, And in her arms a dove; And the great hills are pure, undesecrate, White with their snows untrod, And mighty with the presence of their God! “Harken, how many years I sat alone, I sat alone and heard Only the silence stirred By wind and leaf, by clash of grassy spears, And singing bird that called to singing bird. Heard but the savage tongue Of my brown savage children, that among The hills and valleys chased the buck and doe, And round the wigwam fires Chanted wild songs of their wild savage sires, And danced their wild, weird dances to and fro, And wrought their beaded robes of buffalo. Day following upon day, Saw but the panther crouched upon the limb, Smooth serpents, swift and slim, Slip through the reeds and grasses, and the bear Crush through his tangled lair Of chapparal, upon the startled prey! “Listen, how I have seen Flash of strange fires in gorge and black ravine; Heard the sharp clang of steel, that came to drain The mountain’s golden vein- And laughed and sang, and sang and laughed again, Because that ‘now, ’ I said, ‘I shall be known! I shall not set alone; But reach my hands unto my sister lands! And they? Will they not turn Old, wondering dim eyes to me, and yearn- Aye, they will yearn, in sooth, To my glad beauty, and my glad fresh youth! ’ “What matters though the morn Redden upon my singing fields of corn! What matters though the wind’s unresting feet Ripple the vales run with wine, Ang on these hills of mine The orchard boughs droop heavy with ripe fruit? When with nor sound of lute Nor lyre, doth any singer chant and sing Me, in my life’s fair spring: The matin song of me in my young day? But all my lays and mountain to the farther hem Of sea, and there be none to gather them. “Lo! I have waited long! How longer yet must my strung harp be dumb, Ere its great master come? Till the fair singer comes to wake the strong, Rapt chords of it unto the new, glad song! Him a diviner speech My song-birds wait to teach: The secrets of the field My blossoms will not yeld To other hands than his; And, lingering for this, My Laurels lend the glory of their boughs To crown no narrower brows. For on his lips must wisdom sit with youth, And in his eyes, and on his lids thereof, The light of a great love- And on his forehead, truth! ”... Was in the wind, or the soft sigh of leaves, Or sound of singing waters? Lo, I looked, And saw the silvery ripples of the brook, The fruit upon the hills, the waving trees, And mellow fields of harvest; saw the Gate Burn in the sunset; the thin thread of mist Creep white across the Saucelito hills; Till the day darkened down the ocean rim, The sunset purple slipped from Tamalpais, And bay and sky were bright with sudden stars.
Ina Donna Coolbrith
Ina Donna Coolbrith's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org