NIGHT after night above our lonely roof
The swan flew west along the Milky Way,
A bird of stars above a stream of stars;
Night after night as I in darkness lay
I listened. Was it the wind I heard?
Or did there come a whistling beat of wings
From interstellar space that plucked and plucked
At my strung sinews and my heart’s taut strings?


The swan is flying,
High overhead,
The year is dying,
The year is dead.
The meteors drop
Like dew from grass,
Nothing remains
The thing it was.
The year is dying,
The northern lights
Flare ghostly green
Across our nights.
The meteors flare
Like flaming burrs,
And in my body
Something stirs.
The months are shed,
The swan is flying,
Lie close, small life,
While the year is dying.


In the red-purple darkness of that tent,
That inner tent hung round with Tyrian red,
In the still darkness, ignorant of the sun,
And of the moon, and the stars overhead,
Ignorant of the swan that nightly flies
On outspread wings, ignorant of any light,
That which as yet knows nothing intricately works
Towards its perfection in the brooding night.


Lyre of my heart
Tuned now to lullabies,
Sound through the dark
As smallest ripples rise,
Sing such a song as reeds
Sing to the tide,
Swaying a swan’s lone nest
By the stream side,
Sing songs of streams and reeds,
And of the night,
Formless dark songs of peace
And still delight.


I am grown very precious to myself,
I am the leaves, close-shielding the green corn,
I am the ship whose cargo is of spice,
I am the cloud whence springtime rain is born.
A world of women have conceived before,
A world of women yet will do the same,
But had I been unique of all my kind
My forehead would have felt no other flame.
Old but fresh-wrought the inmost mystery stirs,
And new as the first day when the Lord stood
Mantled in chaos, form again revolves
And in and of itself is known as good.
And I who lie in darkness still can feel
The light of stars imagined on my eyes,
And follow to the choiring of my heart
That white traversing of the midnight skies.
Yet, lyre of my heart, sing very low,
Lest I should wake to harshly jangled strings,
And running to the doorway look and look,
And find no swan, and hear no throb of wings.
E. C.