I put our garden space to bed.
One rake, one shovel, and half a yard
of damp, composted dairy manure.
Sweat on my neck and arms,
back, chest, legs, brow.
Leaves from the neighbor’s dogwood tree
in my hair and beard.
Today, I am ready for anything.
Even the death
I’m beginning to think
like this jade plant in the mist
a jeweled leaf for each
(WHILE DYNASTIES PASS)
From Songs and Letters, November 16, 2008
[A letter to William M.: 'There is a really Basho-like precision clarity and sadness in TRAVELER. So beautiful.- What ALMANAC had brought to my mind was much gloomier and hard- the distant thud of grand history and poured out blood, that fear of which one cannot actually get rid of- even while he sets his house and private life in some meaningful and possibly loving order. Both exist in fact; this experience of my own proximity, that horror. (And I'd thought of Hardy's poem, written during World War One).']
[In Time of "The Breaking of Nations"
Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.
Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.
Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.
THOMAS HARDY ]