Classic and Contemporary Poetry
I HAVE HEARD WHIPPOORWILLS, by LEXIE DEAN ROBERTSON Poet's Biography
First Line: You say that I have grown so strange
Last Line: That sing in kelser park.
Subject(s): Birds; Hearts; Love; Whipporwills
YOU say that I have grown so strange
Since I am home to stay?
I have known shyer hearts to change
When they were far away.
The night was sweet in Kelser Park:
A yellow moon lay spilled,
And whippoorwills sang after dark
In air that honey filled.
I felt the beauty all around
Nor knew how it could be,
I laid my face against the ground
With no one there to see
Except an understanding heart
Who shared the night with me.
Life offered me a brimming cup
But I dared only taste.
That brew was far too strangely sweet,
I gave it back in haste.
It bruised my soul to give it back
And say I would not drink.
I know how breaking on the rack
Can make a drooling maniac
For I felt ancient tortures sink
Through me with every clanking link
That chained me back to sober day
Where sedate worlds move on their way.
I did not want to think or feel,
I longed to dance some giddy reel
With all the little shaking leaves
That shimmered in the scented air,
To catch the spilled moon in my hair,
To wear the lace the spider weaves.
I longed to sit upon a star
And laugh aloud to see
How foolish righteous people are
In awe of mystery.
To be a fragment of the note
That tumbled from the dark bird's throat
And strike to every lover's ear
The shivery green pain of fear,
For love is brief and time is long
To listen to a sad bird's song.
I longed to lie in the lush grass
And lure the wanton winds to pass
Along the cool white length of me
As if I were a crystal tree;
To slide down from the shining moon
On some smooth plane of sky
And lose me in a rose-drunk swoon
Where purple beetles fly;
To know for mine each old delight
That June holds hidden in her night.
(I was a little mad, I think,
When I refused that subtle drink.)
And all the while a whippoorwill
Called from a dusky tree,
Whose every aching silvered note
Was echoed deep in me.
But I have come back home again
To keep my little house,
And live the mincing nibbled years
As grey as any mouse.
Yet though my ways seem just the same,
My heart has known the heat of flame,
And I am like a wind-tossed spark
Since I have heard the whippoorwills
That sing in Kelser Park.
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