An Evening Parade and a Night March
Poetry of Far and Near
I am posting these poems in the order in which they were written, which means we see the night first. This is a sonnet which begins with the stars and ends with something much closer at hand…
The poem is worked out in one of my favorite sonnet structures, the Spenserian, with its abab bcbc cdcd ee rhyme scheme. This makes for a particularly closely integrated line flow, with only the two concluding lines set off to themselves.
Now for the stars…
The serried stars climb in an upward arch
Along the black of heaven. Midnight’s here,
And all their mighty companies will march
And wheel along the hours, along the clear
Bleak sky. And while their brilliant legions veer
In changeless order, all the rising dust
Of starshine scatters through the night, and near
At hand is lying luminous, where just
The faint rays fallen from afar have thrust
The splendor of their light upon the pale
And solemn earth. And like a child must,
The earth looks up in wonder; and its frail
Heart beats to find its company so bright–
Like child’s first glimpse upon a festive night.
This second poem—longer but at a much smaller scale and more light-hearted—was jotted out almost entirely on my phone as I stood down with my horses, watching a largish covey of quail.
Through the horse's swishing tail
And through the fence bars, I can see
A small procession of gray quail
Step down the hill, along the scree
To peck for bits among the feed
That’s tossed awry, to stop and scout
For little greens or tasty seed
That’s scattered or begun to sprout.
Then up and down the hill they go,
Heads bobbing there for bits to eat,
While crests nod quicker as their slow
Parade moves past upon pink feet.
They peck and run with watchful pause,
Then glide along with rapid grace;
But all at once a whoosh—for cause
Unknown (at least to me)—a race
Into the brush, a whir of wings;
And suddenly no quail at all
Are seen, although a breeze may bring
Their voices from the chaparral.
Beneath the thornscrub watch is kept,
For moments later out they come.
The hiding place where they had crept
Is emptied just as quick. And from
Its shadow to an autumn feast
They march once more along the hill.
Now blue light from the sundown east
Glows softly on them; and dusk's still
Caress upon their quiet gray,
Their black masks, and their stripes of white
Falls gently now. Among the hay
They pick for seeds in the twilight
And rush and glide and play; and I
Still watch my small parade of quail,
As well their friends the rabbits–why,
The rabbits are another tale!
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