September 1961 by Denise Levertov
This is the year the old ones,
the old great ones
leave us alone on the road.
The road leads to the sea.
We have the words in our pockets,
obscure directions. The old ones
have taken away the light of their presence,
we see it moving away over a hill
off to one side.
They are not dying,
they are withdrawn
into a painful privacy
learning to live without words.
E. P. "It looks like dying"-Williams: "I can't
describe to you what has been
happening to me"-
H. D. "unable to speak."
twists itself in the wind, the stars
are small, the horizon
ringed with confused urban light-haze.
They have told us
the road leads to the sea,
the language into our hands.
our footsteps each time a truck
has dazzled past us and gone
leaving us new silence.
Ine can't reach
the sea on this endless
road to the sea unless
one turns aside at the end, it seems,
the owl that silently glides above it
aslant, back and forth,
and away into deep woods.
But for usthe road
unfurls itself, we count the
words in our pockets, we wonder
how it will be without them, we don't
stop walking, we know
there is far to go, sometimes
we think the night wind carries
a smell of the sea...