The Gnome

Wind in a poor man’s drain
Rattles like a dying mute.
But I keep snug the year long,
Keeping house in a buried boot.
Bed I have, and stove and pot.
And do the thing I please.
I watch the clouds go by like kings
All kneeling to the breeze.
I have counted seams in my coat,
Those in coats of the poor.
So many there as when the wind
Blows stars through a broken door.
Tick-tack the tailor goes,
And here’s another star!
So hearts are held together.
Tick-tack, the needle’s never far.
Some walk, some run,
But all agree the road is sure.
Underfoot they cannot feel
The sorry stones’ discomfiture.
They know not what I have seen
Under the hurrying rout —
The long sleepers stretched there,
Their long tongues sticking out.
All on the road go grim or slack,
Eyes to earth or eyes to the poles.
None could guess from how they walk
The bitter tickling of their soles.
Their shoes bear little faces
Which eat the dust with grins of a clown.
Let them walk to their anklebones,
They will not wear them down.
It’s I who light the will-o’-the-wisp,
I lay their bed of grass.
The lovers think the fire they draw
Will linger when they pass.
Or think because they hold so tight
They have the thing they hold.
Yet they have passed away to seek
Where all their earth had rolled.
Who am I? What’s the world?
Wherever I look I see my nose.
It stands like a lonely rock
Receiving the cold wind’s blows.
Heart, take case! I yet will know
The name and being of the One.
It gathers in the hollow place
The wind begets in stone.