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NO MATTER WHAT, AFTER ALL, AND THAT BEAUTIFUL WORD SO, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: This was the time of their heaviest migration
Last Line: "just to listen. ""what is it about that sound?"
Subject(s): Birds

This was the time of their heaviest migration,
And the wild geese for hours sounded their song
In the night over Syracuse, near and far,
As they circled toward Beaver Lake up beyond
Baldwinsville. We heard them while we lay in bed
Making love and talking, and often we lay still
Just to listen. "What is it about that sound?"
You said, and because I was in my customary
Umbrage with reality I answered, "Everything
Uncivilized," but knew right away I was wrong.
I examined my mind. In spite of our loving
I felt the pressure of the house enclosing me,
And the pressure of the neighboring houses
That seemed to move against me in the darkness,
And the pressure of the whole city, and then
The whole continent, which I saw
As the wild geese must see it, a system
Of colored lights creeping everywhere in the night.
Oh the McDonald's on the strip outside Casper,
Wyoming (which I could indistinctly remember),
Was pressing against me. "Why permit it?"
I asked myself. "It's a dreadful civilization,
Of course, but the pressure is yours." It was true.
I listened to the sound in the sky, and I had no
Argument against myself. The sound was unlike
Any other, indefinable, unnameable -- certainly
Not a song, as I had called it. A kind of discourse,
The ornithologists say, in a language unknown
To us; a complex discourse about something
Altogether mysterious. Yet so is the cricketing
Of the crickets in the grass, and it is not the same.
In the caves of Lascaux, I've heard, the Aurignacian
Men and women took leave of the other animals, a trauma
They tried to lessen by painting the animal spirits
Upon the stone. And the geese are above our window.
Christ, what is it about that sound? Talking in the sky,
Bell-like words, but only remotely bell-like,
A language of many and strange tones above us
In the night at the change of seasons, talking unseen,
An expressiveness -- is that it? Expressiveness
Intact and with no meaning? Yet we respond,
Our minds make an answering, though we cannot
Articulate it. How great the unintelligible
Meaning! Our lost souls flying over. The talk
Of the wild geese in the sky. It is there. It is so.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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