Elegy To The Bird of Empty Spaces
O. bless me, Muse of Silence, dark and still,
That no more worldly sound my words shall make
Than Philomel, whose plaintive, helpless trill
Eternal thirst for endless peace does slake.
Sadly I tell of seer and of seen
Of a bird who pain into silence sang
Of one who saw what might have been
In those spaces between each lonely pang.
Night in silence the tiny flapping heard.
None can tell when its heart took wing and spoke.
Airs of joy never kissed that little bird.
And yet always in gentleness he woke.
Every life that in his compass lay
He blessed, though troubled was his little heart
That grief and sickness over all held sway
Yet fear, soul from soul did keep apart.
Fly, my song, and soar! Break this endless night!
In silence there more meaning lies, and strength,
Than sun and stars with all their might of light!
Bring pain. My life will measure out its length.
Without moan or groan the thought has flown!
Pain has come with all her brood to bless you,
Little bird! They will spare nor blood nor bone,
But laughing watch you taste their bitter brew.
Enter! Come! The party has not yet begun.
In comfort be not seated yet do watch
As long you will, or until all is done.
Carve upon my soul, for your help, a notch.
Watch and laugh. How he flutters, how he cries.
See tears crack the dirt upon his face.
Is it not delightful how well he lies
While he begs all for mercy and for grace?
All those for whom I care are in my sight.
Wealth and Knowledge, both in my house do shine.
But upon troubled heart they shed their light
To see but broken wings on unbent spine.
No healing touch he asks but, as of old,
He sings with open, gentle, loving heart
That beats with fear though it shines like gold
Bright from the furnace but unknown to art.
His tree is cut. His nest is gone. Nor root
Nor branch is his to grasp. Only terror,
Loneliness, and dark, are within his suit.
Say for this sad bird a simple prayer.
Ask, for him, a friend, who will walk with him
Some miles and beg, for him, a ray of light
When life and death seem, both, too harsh and dim
For him to bear the burden of his sight.
Show him not how he has strayed nor preach
To him how he may have fared if only this
Or that were done or how extend his reach.
He seeks no more than what is justly his.
Six and twenty summers in his homeland
Fair, he stayed and wandered little. And then
Six and twenty summers another land
He dared to scratch a living with a pen.
His life, a book of many colours wrought,
Spoke seldom of love and laughter, but drew
Into gardens of solitary thought
Moments of truth — blooms yellow, red and blue.
Few read long and none too deep for they feared
To see, to know, what they must see and know.
But by the light of truth he always steered
Even on dark nights when he must fly low.
The book, he knew, would close the day that he
Ran out of ink, but neither voice nor eye
Would either slow or stop but would be free.
Fear came but it never made him fly.
He paid his dues, he left some clues; he yearned
To live a life where he could sink or soar,
Though both wings did break and each feather burned
So he may be he, no less – and no more.
What he knew, what he thought, he tried to teach
But every morn he woke to wonder
What he would learn and how far he would reach
Before pot and ink he must surrender.
He did not command great hosts in battle
Or take title or govern any land
For he would not lead his men like cattle
For power make or hold unholy band.
Though the pages still may flutter, we close
Today, his book. Bless him, gentle reader
Or remember his poems or his prose
As befits a teacher not a leader.
One day, perhaps, you shall hear birdsong
Deep and sweet and know whence it stirs abroad.
Though large is the world, the truth is a gong
And much you may hear though much is flawed.
The sky is very deep, my friends, and wide;
And, though will be good, yet for us too vast
In story rapt, forever to abide.
Every bird must to his nest at last.
Many birds have flown the skies and many
Fallen down. Many birds will yet take wing
And loudly sing, but he is unlike any,
Whose song in silence will forever ring.