Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SPOKEN AT A CASTLE GATE, by DONALD (GRADY) DAVIDSON

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SPOKEN AT A CASTLE GATE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Before you touch the bolt that locks this gate
Last Line: Perhaps you'll find, -- but never come back again.
Subject(s): Castles; Dreams; Nightmares

Before you touch the bolt that locks this gate
Be warned. There's no return where you are going.
A sword is tinder at the touch of fate
And crumbles in a way beyond your knowing.

Something I've heard, but something less I tell.
An old man knows, advises, -- young men smile,
Blow slug-horns, chink a latch, or clank a bell.
I've watched a many a one this weary while.

You can hear the nightingales, I won't deny.
They always sing for eager souls like you,
Perched on their boughs of possibility,
Most vaguely heard and still more vaguely true.

And they are more, perhaps, than mere tradition.
They must exist, though none come back to say
How they are feathered, or what rare nutrition
Keeps them, piping their sad peculiar lay.

Gardens there are, and Queens, no doubt, a-walking,
White blooms adrift on gold and marvellous hair.
Young men in murmurous dreams have heard them talking,
Leaped up like you, and entered . . . vanished . . . where?
For all I know, the castle's just a dream,
A shadow piled to mask a dangerous ledge,
A fantasy blown from devil's lungs in steam,
Made permanent here, just on a chasm's edge,

Where you will plunge, forever, ever falling,
For infinite days and nights, a dark lump whirled
That hears or thinks it hears an old voice calling
Beyond the stars that cluster near this world --

A voice that follows you past endless night,
Familiar, yet not quite half-known or named,
The last and sorry remnant of delight
That you lived for, pursued, and touched, and claimed,

Even as you touch the bolt that locks this gate,
Smiling, with patience such as fits old men
Who prophesy. Ah yes, what you create
Perhaps you'll find, -- but never come back again.

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