.

These stones that like huge sculpted figures lie
__Amid the trunks of moss and fern-clad trees,
Eons of creatures have seen born and die
__And the land’s face carved by the shifting seas.
____All of earth’s seasons since the dawn of Man,
____Are but a day in their old being’s span,
But of the self-same cosmic dust as I,
__They seem to whisper low upon the breeze.

I listen to that murmur, drawing near,
__And touch the old moss-bearded face of one,
Whose sacred language only those may hear
__Who have imagined a world just begun,
____And their own atoms scattered in this earth,
____Awaiting over ages for their birth
Into a form that would someday appear,
__And know the meaning of what time had done.

And I hear all the voices in those stones,
__Of all the souls who breathed into the air
Their lofty thoughts, their dreams, their passion’s moans
__The pain and joy, the hope and the despair,
____And feel that my soul’s sound may penetrate
____Into their depths and someday resonate
Like scarcely heard, but felt, low murmured tones
__That seem to call as from a dream somewhere.

.

.

Daniel R. Leach is a poet living in Houston, Texas. He has spent much of his life fighting for the ideals of classical culture and poetry. His volume of poetry, compiling over 20 years of composition, is entitled “Voices on the Wind.”


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7 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    This poem is remarkable for the very sparing use of “sound” words. The whisper in the last line of the first stanza, along with “I listen” at the beginning of the second, leads us to expect more that appear–but so slowly–in the remaining lines. There is nothing more, beyond a murmur, in the second stanza, as the words “language” and “meaning” are simply faint suggestions. The speaker hears voices as the third stanza begins, but the “moans” and “soul’s sound” scarcely resonate, as the speaker feels rather than hears “low murmured tones” that seem to call from a dream “somewhere.” Not loud enough to identify a source or even the direction from which the tones come! This is admirable care with words representing the stolidity of stone!

    Reply
  2. Yael

    That’s a really neat poem and I’m particularly awed by the second stanza with the scattered atoms. I was immediately reminded of this old German animated short film from 20 years ago, called Das Rad, which deals with rock time perception. Have you ever watched it?
    It’s still on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOPwXNFU7oU
    The English subtitles are a loose translation and leave much to be desired but they are better than nothing I suppose.

    Reply
  3. Daniel Kemper

    This sense of ourselves and those who’ve gone before us in the stones reminds me of a line in a poem I read many years ago when the Internet was just bulletin boards. “rec.arts.poetry” -the poem praised America in contrast to Europe where “every stone. Every stone you might pick up/is soaked with blood”

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Whoever that poet was, I wonder if he realized that after close to 70,000 years of Amerindian habitation and savage inter-tribal warfare, the stones of America were just as damned bloody. But perhaps he was simply a stupid liberal, and didn’t think much.

      Reply
  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Daniel, this poem is philosophical, thought-provoking and beautiful. I particularly like the ABABCCAB rhyme scheme. It has a feel of Swinburne about it. I like the idea of the stones possessing an earthly eternity that calls out to us in our dreams… something we can be part of.

    When I lived in the UK, I liked to wander in churchyards and connect with the story whispered from the mossy beards on the face of the of old tombstones. One of my favorite places was Stonehenge, and when I touched the stones, I swear I heard the song of something sublime sailing on the wind. Nowadays, they’re cordoned off with a rope… but my handprint is forever etched in their wonder.

    Thank you for my trip down memory lane.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Susan, you offer an interesting focus on Daniel’s single reference to touching the stone, and indeed the stone’s face that has a living appearance because moss grows on it.

      Stonehenge may be cordoned off now, but tourists can sign up (months in advance) for small group tours inside the cordon. My family and I had to sign promises not to do anything like a Druid ritual (chanting, lighting fires, or throwing liquids), but the guide positively encouraged us to hug and kiss the stones. My children (teens at the time) and many others did so, with no fear of contracting disease!

      Reply

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