Notes for a Poem

Originally published in Theory of Flight (1935)

Here are the long fields inviolate of thought,
here are the planted fields ranking the sky,
signs in the earth :
water-cast shuttles of light flickering the underside of rock.
These have been shown before; but the fields know new hands,
the son’s fingers grasp warmly at the father’s hoe ;
there will be new ways of seeing these ancestral lands.

“In town, the munitions plant has been poor since the war,
And nothing but a war will make it rich again.”
Holy, holy, holy, sings the church next door.

Time-ridden, a man strides the current of a stream’s flowing,
stands, flexing the wand curvingly over his head,
tracking the water’s prism with the flung line.
Summer becomes productive and mature.
Farmers watch tools like spikes of doom against the sure
condemning sky descending upon the hollow lands.

The water is ridged in muscles on the rock,
force for the State is planted in the stream-bed.
Water springs from the stone the State is fed.

Morning comes, brisk with light,
a broom of color over the threshold.
Long flights of shadows escape to the white sky :
a spoon is straightened. Day grows. The sky is blued.

The water rushes over the shelves of stone
to anti-climax on the mills below the drop.
The planted fields are bright and rake the sky.
Power is common. Earth is grown
and overgrown in unrelated strength, the moral
rehearsed already, often.
(There must be the gearing of these facts
into coördination, in a poem or numbers,
rows of statistics, or the cool iambs.)
The locked relationships which will be found
are a design to build these factual timbers —
a plough of thought to break this stubborn ground.

 
 

(c) Muriel Rukeyser

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