A Sonnet Sequence

I

TO-NIGHT the pine wood is so dark and still,
The very winds are muted by the cold;
Across the frozen field, above the hill,
The deserts of eternity unfold.
The gentle darkness chill upon my face,
Alone, as though upon a star that swings
Between the silent worlds, through endless space,
I share the majesty of infinite things.
And I give thanks for my mortality,
Warm Life, endeared by the uncertain goal,
Even for stalking Death, whose mystery
Lends vision to the senses of the soul.
And from cold stars, a child afraid of night,
I seek your window’s friendly candlelight.

II

The birds once sang; no longer do they sing.
Green hopes that rustled joyfully are still.
Yet, not so long ago, the time w as Spring,
Sunshine on meadow, wind upon the hill.
However I long for rest — as years go flying,
New Springs are sweet though seen through ageing eyes;
For a long, long time I have no thought of dying,
And the past grows vivid as the future dies.
For I have widely wandered and have been
Blessed with high tasks and dear companionships;
Warm hearts and noble courage have I seen,
And tender curving of beloved lips.
And these with me autumnal vigils keep
While my old dog lies quarreling in his sleep.

III

Last night you spoke so solemnly, whereat,
Half listening, I chuckled; and you may be
Shocked at my thoughts, for I was thinking that
When you were born you must have been a baby;
Fresh from the heavenly fields, beyond the dawn,
Where wished-for little children wait for birth,
Playing with the wistful never-to-be-born
Until great love shall summon them to earth;
Your face alight with two deep, wondering eyes,
Greeting the strange world with a puzzled frown;
Small groping hands; round, pink, and dimpled thighs;
And little head all soft with feather-down.
You could not know how gently, when I smiled,
In your still-wond’ring eyes I loved the child.

IV

And had I known you in Neanderthal,
In our old world’s volcanic adolescence,
No chill convention could have held us thrall,
My worship must have won your acquiescence.
In my flat head, not much more flat than now,
You would have stirred the soul’s vague rudiments,
Soft’ning with love my brachycephalic brow,
As now you charm my great intelligence.
Who knows! For these five hundred thousand years
This love, throughout my spirit’s pilgrimage,
In body after body reappears —
An ancient cytoplasmic heritage;
And kindles, in successive incarnations,
The soul that passes on through generations.

R. S.