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The Song of the Messiah To Mona “—His woman was a mother to the Word.” And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. —Acts 2–17 Is it not, indeed, the core of man’s mystery, that in his greatest follies his last wisdom lies enfurled? —Fülop-Miller I the voice in the wilderness The Earth was dying slowly, being old, A grandam, crouched against an inner cold Above the scraped-up ashes of the dear, She babbled still the story of the year By hopeless moons; but all her bloom was snow. Mere stresses in a monody1 of woe, Her winters stung the moment, and her springs Were only garrulous2 rememberings Of joy that made them sadder than the fall. And mournful was the summer, most of all, With fruitfulness remembered—bounteous sap For happy giving, toddlers in her lap And nuzzlers at her breast, and more to be, And lovers eager still, so dear was she, So needed and so beautiful to woo! Ten years had grown the sorrow of the Sioux,3 Blood-sown of one ingloriously slain,4 Whose dusty heart no sorcery of rain Would sprout with pity, flowering for his own; Nor could the blizzard’s unresolving moan Remind him of his people unconsoled. Old as the earth, the hearts of men were old That year of ’eighty-seven in the spring.5 O once it was a very holy thing,6 Some late March night, to waken to the moan Of little waters, when the South, outblown, Had left the soft dark clear of other sound; When you could feel things waking underground And all the world turned spirit, and you heard Still thunders of the Everlasting Word7 Straining the hush.—Alas, to lie awake Remembering, when time is like the ache Of silence wedded, barren, to a wraith!8 True to an empty ritual of faith, The geese came chanting as they used to do When there was wonder yet; when, blue on blue, The world was wider than a day in June, And twice the northbound bison lost the moon Trailing the summer up the Sioux domain. What myriads now would hear the whooping crane And join the green migration?9 Vision, sound, Song from the green and color from the ground, Scent in the wind and shimmer on the wing, A cruel beauty, haunting everything, Disguised the empty promise.10 In the sloughs11 The plum brush, crediting the robin’s news, Made honey of it, and the bumblebee Hummed with the old divine credulity12 The music of the universal hoax. Among the public cottonwoods and oaks The shrill jays coupled and the catbird screamed, Delirious with the dream the old Earth dreamed Of ancient nuptials, ecstasies that were. 490 the song of the messiah For once again the warm Rain over her Folded the lover’s blanket; nights were whist13 To hear her low moan running in the mist, Her secret whispers in the holy dark. And every morning the deluded lark Sang hallelujah to a widowed world.14 May sickened into June. The short-grass curled. Of evenings thunder mumbled ’round the sky; But clouds were phantoms and the dawns were dry, And it were better nothing had been born. Sick-hearted in the squalor15 of the corn, Old hunters brooded, dreaming back again The days when earth still bore the meat of men— Bull-thunders in a sky-wide storm of cows!— Till bow-grips tightened on the hated plows And spear-hands knuckled for an empty thrust. The corn-stalks drooping in the bitter dust, Despairing mothers widowed in the silk,16 With swaddled babies dead for want of milk, Moaned to the wind the universal dearth. There was no longer magic in the earth; No mystery was vital in the air; No spirit in the silence anywhere Made doubly sure a wonder that was sure. To live was now no more than to endure The purposeless indignity of breath, Sick for the brave17 companion that was Death, Now grown a coward preying on the weak. However might the hungry-hearted seek Upon a starry hill, however high, A knowing Presence, everywhere the sky 491 The Voice in the Wilderness Was like a tepee where the man lies stark And...


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