If you could crowd them into forty lines! Yes; you can do it, once you get a start; All that you want is waiting in your head, For long-ago you’ve learnt it off by heart.
. . . . Begin: your mind’s the room where you have slept, (Don’t pause for rhymes), till twilight woke you early. The window stands wide-open, as it stood When tree-tops loomed enchanted for a child Hearing the dawn’s first thrushes through the wood Warbling (you know the words) serene and wild.
You’ve said it all before: you dreamed of Death, A dim Apollo in the bird-voiced breeze That drifts across the morning veiled with showers, While golden weather shines among dark trees.
You’ve got your limitations; let them sing, And all your life will waken with a cry: Why should you halt when rapture’s on the wing And you’ve no limit but the cloud-flocked sky?...
But some chap shouts, ‘Here, stop it; that’s been done!’— As God might holloa to the rising sun, And then relent, because the glorying rays Remind Him of green-glinting Eden days, And Adam’s trustful eyes as he looks up From carving eagles on his beechwood cup.
Young Adam knew his job; he could condense Life to an eagle from the unknown immense.... Go on, whoever you are; your lines can be A whisper in the music from the weirs Of song that plunge and tumble toward the sea That is the uncharted mercy of our tears.
. . . . I told you it was easy! ... Words are fools Who follow blindly, once they get a lead. But thoughts are kingfishers that haunt the pools Of quiet; seldom-seen: and all you need Is just that flash of joy above your dream. So, when those forty platitudes are done, You’ll hear a bird-note calling from the stream That wandered through your childhood; and the sun Will strike the old flaming wonder from the waters.... And there’ll be forty lines not yet begun.