/imgs/000186.jpg hello Veery Books — Buy , Barrow Street; Winter 2001, Barrow Street Inc.


The Seeker in the Marshes

THANKSGIVING to the gods!		
  Shaken and shivering in the autumn rains,		
With clay feet clinging to the weary sods,		
  I wait below the clouds, amid the plains,		
As though I stood in some remote, strange clime,	
  Waiting to kneel upon the tomb of time.		
The harvest swaths are gathered in the garth,		
  The aftermath is floating in the fields,		
The house-carl bides beside the roaring hearth,		
  And clustered cattle batten in the shields.	
Thank ye the gods, O dwellers in the land,		
For home and hearth and ever-giving hand.		
  Stretch hands to pray and feed and sleep and die,		
And then be gathered to your kindred gods,		
  Low in dank barrows ever more to lie,	
So long as autumn over wood-ways plods,		
Forgetting the green earth as ye forgot		
  Its glory in the day when it was born		
To you, on some fair tide in grove and grot,		
  As though new-made upon a glimmering morn.	
And it shall so be meted unto you		
As ye did mete when all things were to do.		
The wild rains cling around me in the night		
  Closer than woman in the sunny days,		
And through these shaken veins a weird delight	
  Of loneliness and storm and sodden ways		
And desolation, made most populous,		
Builds up the roof-trees of the gloomy house		
Of grief to hide and help my lonely path,		
A sateless seeker for the aftermath.	
Thanksgiving to the gods!		
No hidden grapes are leaning to the sods,		
No purple apple glances through green leaves,		
  Nor any fruit or flower is in the rains,		
Nor any corn to garner in long sheaves,	
  And hard the toil is on these scanty plains.		
Howbeit I thank the ever-giving ones,		
  Who dwell in high Olympus near the stars,		
They have not walked in ever-burning suns,		
  Nor has the hard earth hurt their feet with scars.	
Never the soft rains beat them, nor the snow,		
Nor the sharp winds that we marsh-stalkers know.		
In the sad halls of heaven they sleep the sleep,		
Yea, and no morn breaks through their slumber deep.		
These things they cast me forth at eventide to bear		
  With curving sickle over sod and sand;		
And no wild tempest drowns me to despair,		
  No terrors fear me in a barren land.		
Perchance somewhere, across the hollow hill,		
  Or in the thickets in these dreary meads,	
Great grapes, uncut, are on the limp vine still,		
  And waving corn still wears its summer weeds,		
Unseen, ungathered in the earlier tide,		
  When larger summer o’er the earth did glide.		
Who knows? Belike from this same sterile path	
My harvest hand, heaped with an aftermath,		
Shall cast the garner forth before their feet,		
Shapely and shaven clean and very sweet.		
Thanksgiving to the gods!		
  Wet with the falling rain,
My face and sides are beaten as with rods,		
  And soft and sodden is the endless plain—		
  How long—how long do I endure in vain?
Daniel Lewis Dawson [1855-1893]