Léonie Adams (1899-1988)


From weariness I looked out on the stars
   And there beheld them, fixed in throbbing joy,
Nor racked by such mad dance of moods as mars
   For us each moment’s grace with swift alloy.
And as they pierced the heavens’ serene deep
   An envy of that one consummate part
Swept me, who mock. Whether I laugh or weep,
   Some inner silences are at my heart.
Cold shame is mine for all the masks I wear,
   Belying that in me which shines and sings
Before Him, to face down man’s alien stare—
   A graceless puppet on unmeaning strings,
I that looked out, and saw, and was at rest,
   Stars, and faint wings, rose-etched along the west.

Kennst du das Land

No, I have borne in mind this hill,
For once before I came its way
In hours when summer held her breath
Above her innocents at play;
Knew the leaves deepening the green ground
With their green shadows, there as still
And perfect as leaves stand in air;
The bird who takes delight in sound
Giving his young and watery call,
That is each time as if a fall
Flashed silver and were no more there.
And knew at last, when day was through,
That sky in which the boughs were dipped
More thick with stars than fields with dew;
And in December brought to mind
The laughing child to whom they gave
Among these slopes, upon this grass,
The summer-hearted name of love.
Still can you follow with your eyes,
Where on the green and gilded ground
The dancers will not break the round,
The beechtrunks carved of moonlight rise;
Still at their roots the violets burn
Lamps whose flame is soft as breath.
But turn not so, again, again,
They clap me in their wintry chain;
I know the land whereto you turn,
And know it for a land of death.