A Reply to the Inner Self

If, as you say, man but holds in his mind
The limits only body can extend:
How with Art do we our existence find,
But in common words the thought always end?
How may one journey on a cup of rice
Further than the man who has been well-fed?
How can one man live in full paradise
When he has neither a house nor a bed?
How is it he stays with love satisfied
When he seeks no divergence in pleasure?
Or how from the depths his feelings reside
Unperturbed, when he has no more leisure?
Small merits the man his life to consume
These fortunes of mind, not letting them bloom.

 

Grass Piper

‘Grass Piper,’ they recalled,
And as they said his name
A tear built in their eyes
With laughter or with shame.

‘Grass Piper,’ they called out,
And picking up their pace,
Some of them with anger
And others with a grace

Familiar to the heart,
In silent witness viewed
The leaves and hills around
With thought-provoking mood.

That small forgotten land,
Shaded with surrounding
Trees, and the morning sun
Of fairest day, peeking

Over the hill, by him
With troubled looks appeased
Now joy, now thoughtfulness,
With wonders, though short-lived,

Or journeys fresh of mind,
Or heartless thoughts to lay
Amongst the drying grass
Disguised and pass away.

Hid he here, Grass Piper,
Breathless still, as their call
And their steps subsiding,
Reverberating fall

Upon his ear in mild
Content, and liberty
Perceiving, from eerie
Shelter soon rambles free.

‘Upon that branch small birds
Will sit,’ he said, ‘higher
Up will perch the falcon;
Mornings will the moisture

‘Shed from the fluffy banks
Of that fountain; flowers
From the meadow afar,
Greatest are their powers,

‘When upward rays of sun
Will shine that filled the night
With showers; to that rock
Will swarming flies alight,

‘Gentle be they to touch,
When weakened by the cold
At night, come there fluids
Forth to suck.  Neither wild

‘Nor overgrown, but smooth
And neat, does this hidden
Habitation lie, where
Of old forgotten men

‘Of new migrations spoke,
Or with their buried dead
They gathered round and left
Their bones; but now is fed

‘The velvet-antlered deer,
Sometimes the turkey plays,
Or autumn-setting sun
Its fading light arrays.

‘But what untold interests,
Even from stranger found,
Is the dark, unknowing
Remnant of wistful sound

‘Those men bring over here,
Turning upon their sighs
With honest intention,
Or yet rolling their eyes,

‘That if I could pretend
With shadow-gazing swoon
To be an awful beast,
Now must I raise a tune

‘To ease their growing fears
In fancy ever found,
That keep them from this grove
And mock the hills around.’

Then lifting up his flute
He played into the breeze
A song ever potent,
It passed with greater ease

Among the many rocks
Where drops of water fell
And long condensation
Made ancient mosses swell.

And as his song kept on
And echoed through the ways
The mind will often search
Wherewith to pass its days,

The notes came flowing back
And pulled his lips apart;
Then leaned he out to hear
The sound their steps impart.

Figures born to nature
Had they strayed–of those least
Aware who think to see
Their solitude released,

And through consolation
Find in lonely heart, joy
And unobtrusive care,
Condemning his employ:

And he to search what calm
Desire fill a dreaming
Voice, without word or phrase,
To send them on the wing

Of memory’s conceit;
And like the rain to fall,
But with misty shadow,
Upon the thing it call–

Wherefore, what seldom-made
Amusements led them still
Through far, unimportant
Retreats, their calls to fill

With lassitude and faint
Misgivings as his flute
Would pray them to repose
Their whims in his pursuit,

Unsteady through the rows
Of dangling leaf and air,
Now drags them from the rocks
To drink the water there.

The leaves and hills around,
What disconcerting place,
To leave what far behind
No path can now retrace!

They pebbles lightly kick,
Or throw them then refrain,
And listening to the sound,
Take up their path again:

‘Grass Piper,’ they recall,
And as they say his name,
A tear builds in his eye
With laughter or with shame.

‘Grass Piper,’ they call out,
Befitting to the place,
Sometimes where an anger,
And others where a grace

Familiar to the heart,
In silent witness drew
The leaves and hill around
And carried them from view.

 

Douglas Thornton is a poet and English teacher living in France.  Please visit his blog at www.douglasthornton.blogspot.com or visit the forum on The Society’s website entitled: A Poet’s Calendar.

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4 Responses

  1. Yolanda

    Love this, so descriptive, I see nature blossoming in an unforgettable scene. My favorite

    Reply
    • Debbie Johnson

      Excellent poetry with strong imagery and metaphor, especially in the second one which reminded me of my dad who passed away many years ago. Good use of rhyme/proximate rhyme. Repetition of the first stanza later in the poem is effective and a powerful stanza in both places~Debbie

      Reply

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