At Dusk

At dusk, when high above the darkening trees,
__The swallows in the deep blue dip and soar,
As if in flying higher, still to squeeze
__The last delicious moments that before
____The light into the West steals off and dies,
____I dream that they are dancing for my eyes.

And when, in deepening shadows still I sit,
__Unwilling to let go the shining day,
The bats, in twilight’s silence, turn and flit
__Above, as if in trance-like, sightless play,
____They dance between unheard, ethereal sound
____And Earth’s voluptuous murmurings all around.

There is, with them, a secret brotherhood,
__As with all things that love the evening sky—
All things that but for one brief moment would
__Between the earth and fading heavens fly;
____Or to a wispy, musing thought give wing,
____And of the earth and sky and shadows sing.

 

Cottonwoods

The jagged cliffs and alien shapes above,
The other-worldly living desert forms,
In softly vibrant, clear late Autumn air,
Should all feel strange to my tame Northern soul,
But as the golden cottonwoods embrace
The road, as it winds through the mountain pass,
It is as if I have come home at last—
So sweetly sad its beauty that I cry,
Like one who has long been upon the sea,
Who feels again the breeze of native shores.
And I remember long ago when young,
I wandered in the mountains of the West
And saw the golden Aspen on the slopes,
Shimmering in the sharp September sun,
And down in gentle valleys, cottonwoods,
Whose brief moment of rich, deep golden glow
Was strangely like coming home even then.
And I dreampt then that I had lived before,
Perhaps as some wandering Indian sage,
Or woman gathering water from the stream
Whose soul drew solace from the golden peace,
Or brave who drew a last breath in this place,
And with its fleeting beauty became one.
For now, I am in its presence again,
I know it does not matter any more,
For memory extends beyond the self,
It is in all which lives, or ever has
Upon the earth or in the boundless sky,
That every soul is meant to feel and know
Yes, all the universe that from all time
Conspired to make this place and time for me,
And through a mystery like prayer, for you—
The cottonwoods glow in November air
Like essence of all Autumns in all climes,
The aching beauty of all things that pass,
All creatures that have ever been, or will,
The very molecules in these two eyes
That press the image of immortal things
Upon the soul—the very breath that gives
The ancient song renewed into the world.
All this I know, as all the others knew,
Yet am content to see and feel and breathe
The golden moment in, and touch the air
With soft vibration of my passing song.

 

Daniel Leach is a poet living in Houston, Texas. He has spent much of his life fighting for the ideals of classical culture and and poetry. His poems have been published on the 21st century classical poetry website www.thechainedmuse.com. More of his writings can be found here

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10 Responses

  1. Sally Cook

    Dear Daniel Leach —

    Your poems are deft, expressive, and more true to form than any I have encountered in some time. Are you familiar with the potry of Joseph S. Salemi, Leo Yankevich and Charles Southerland, among others? If not, I am sure you will be pleased to read them.

    You have broken the barriers of complacency and sameness and have done what is almost impossible to do – i.e. take a conventional subject such as dusk and make it ring once more with authenticity.

    I look forward to more. Thank you for posting these.

    Sincerely,

    Reply
  2. James A. Tweedie

    Charles Eager’s recent SCP essay on Wordsworth listed “Tintern Abbey” as his greatest work. “Tintern” is blank verse and “Cottenwoods” reflects similar themes in a similar manner. I find that extended verse is often more effective without the rhyme and I believe that even if you had rhymed this poem, and done so well, it could not have been any more “poetic” or “lyric” than what you have given us here.

    As for “At Dusk,” I will simply say that the high point, for me, was your couplet,

    The light into the West steals off and dies,
    I dream that they are dancing for my eyes.

    Lovely, indeed.

    I look forward to seeing more.

    Reply
  3. David Watt

    The blank verse of ‘Cottonwoods’ is particularly expressive. Both pieces make for enjoyable reading. I believe the word ‘dreampt’ in ‘Cottonwoods’ requires correction to ‘dreamt’.

    Reply
  4. Mark Stone

    Daniel, Hello.

    At Dusk

    1. I love the sound of “still I sit, unwilling to let” and “bats, in twilight’s silence, turn and flit.” These are textbook examples of alliteration, assonance and consonance.

    2. This idea is a little out there, but if you wanted to go archaic to get an alliteration, you could change “let go” to “unhand” so as to create:

    Unwilling to unhand the shining day

    3. When I finished reading this poem, I literally said “Wow! This is really good.”

    Cottonwoods

    1. This 44-line poem has five sentences, and their lengths are 10, 7, 6, 17 & 4 lines. I may be the only one, but I think I would enjoy the poem more if it were broken up into stanzas. Even just putting a vertical space between each of the sentences.

    2. The poem appears to be in iambic meter. However, the line “Perhaps as some wandering Indian sage,” doesn’t seem to fit well with that meter. It works if you read it as iamb-anapest-anapest-anapest, but it took me a few readings to figure that out.

    3. Every time I read “And I dreamt then that I had lived before,” I want to do one of two things. One idea is change it to ““And then I dreamt that I had lived before.” The other idea is to dump “and” and “then” which gives you “I dreamt that I had live before” and then add two syllables have more content value than “and” and “then.”

    4. Notwithstanding these minor comments, it’s a beautiful poem.

    Reply
  5. David Watt

    Hello Daniel, I would also like to mention that in “To Dusk”, the following lines were beautifully done:

    All things that but for one brief moment would
    Between the earth and fading heavens fly;
    Or to a wispy, musing thought give wing,
    And of the earth and sky and shadows sing.

    Reply
  6. Leonard Dabydeen

    ‘At Dusk’ is certainly an enjoyable read. The rhythm and rhyme in iambic pentameter tease the mind to read the poem over and over. Wonderful! TFS, Daniel Leach.

    ‘Cottonwoods’ enliven cottonwoods in November. Beautiful! TFS, Daniel Leach.

    Reply
  7. Michael Dashiell

    2 lovely contemplative poems that foremost express love. As Mr. Tweedie alluded, these poems remind me of Wordsworth, especially his Intimations of Immortality.

    Reply

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