On the Move

O
The blue jay scuffling in the bushes follows
Some hidden purpose, and the gust of birds
That spurts across the field, the wheeling swallows,
Has nested in the trees and undergrowth.
Seeking their instinct, or their poise, or both,
One moves with an uncertain violence
Under the dust thrown by a baffled sense
Or the dull thunder of approximate words.

On motorcycles, up the road, they come:
Small, black, as flies hanging in heat, the Boys,
Until the distance throws them forth, their hum
Bulges to thunder held by calf and thigh.
In goggles, donned impersonality,
In gleaming jackets trophied with the dust,
They strap in doubt – by hiding it, robust –
And almost hear a meaning in their noise.

Exact conclusion of their hardiness
Has no shape yet, but from known whereabouts
They ride, direction where the tyres press.
They scare a flight of birds across the field:
Much that is natural, to the will must yield.
Men manufacture both machine and soul,
And use what they imperfectly control
To dare a future from the taken routes.

It is a part solution, after all.
One is not necessarily discord
On earth; or damned because, half animal,
One lacks direct instinct, because one wakes
Afloat on movement that divides and breaks.
One joins the movement in a valueless world,
Choosing it, till, both hurler and the hurled,
One moves as well, always toward, toward.

A minute holds them, who have come to go:
The self-defined, astride the created will
They burst away; the towns they travel through
Are home for neither bird nor holiness,
For birds and saints complete their purposes.
At worst, one is in motion; and at best,
Reaching no absolute, in which to rest,
One is always nearer by not keeping still.
61
Rating:

Comment form:

*Max text - 500. Manual moderation.

Similar Poems:

Snails by Francis Ponge
Francis Ponge
Unlike the ashes that make their home with hot coals, snails prefer moist earth. Go on: they advance while gluing themselves to it with their entire bodies. They carry it, they eat it, they shit it. They go through it, it goes through them. It’s the best kind of interpenetration, as between tones, one passive and one active. The passive bathes and nourishes the active, which overturns the other while it eats.

(There is more to be said about snails. First of all their immaculate clamminess. Their sangfroid. Their stretchiness.)

One can scarcely conceive of a snail outside its shell and unmoving. The moment it rests it sinks down deep into itself. In fact, its modesty obliges it to move as soon as it has shown its nakedness and 
revealed its vulnerable shape. The moment it’s exposed, it moves on.

During periods of dryness they withdraw into ditches where it seems their bodies are enough to maintain their dampness. No doubt their neighbors there are toads and frogs and other ectothermic animals. But when they come out again they don’t move as quickly. You have to admire their willingness to go into the ditch, given how hard it is for them to come out again.

Note also that though snails like moist soil, they have no affection for places that are too wet such as marshes or ponds. Most assuredly they prefer firm earth, as long as it’s fertile and damp.

They are fond as well of moisture-rich vegetables and green leafy plants. They know how to feed on them leaving only the veins, cutting free the most tender leaves. They are hell on salads.

What are these beings from the depths of the ditches? Though snails love many of their trenches’ qualities they have every intention of leaving. They are in their element but they are also wanderers. And when they emerge into the daylight onto firm ground their shells will preserve their vagabond’s hauteur.

It must be a pain to have to haul that trailer around with them everywhere, but they never complain and in the end they are happy about it. How valuable, after all, to be able to go home any time, no matter where you may find yourself, eluding all intruders. It must be worth it.
Read Poem
0
76
Rating:

Falling by James L. Dickey
James L. Dickey
A 29-year-old stewardess fell ... to her
death tonight when she was swept
through an emergency door that sud-
denly sprang open ... The body ...
was found ... three hours after the
accident.
—New York Times
Read Poem
0
64
Rating:

Hymn to Life by James Schuyler
James Schuyler
The wind rests its cheek upon the ground and feels the cool damp
And lifts its head with twigs and small dead blades of grass
Pressed into it as you might at the beach rise up and brush away
The sand. The day is cool and says, “I’m just staying overnight.”
The world is filled with music, and in between the music, silence
And varying the silence all sorts of sounds, natural and man made:
There goes a plane, some cars, geese that honk and, not here, but
Not so far away, a scream so rending that to hear it is to be
Read Poem
0
114
Rating:

Maximus, to Gloucester: Letter 2 by Charles Olson
Charles Olson
. . . . . tell you? ha! who
can tell another how
to manage the swimming?

he was right: people

don’t change. They only stand more
revealed. I,
likewise

1
Read Poem
0
67
Rating:

Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
1
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

Read Poem
0
70
Rating:

Syringa by John Ashbery
John Ashbery
Orpheus liked the glad personal quality
Of the things beneath the sky. Of course, Eurydice was a part
Of this. Then one day, everything changed. He rends
Rocks into fissures with lament. Gullies, hummocks
Can’t withstand it. The sky shudders from one horizon
To the other, almost ready to give up wholeness.
Then Apollo quietly told him: “Leave it all on earth.
Your lute, what point? Why pick at a dull pavan few care to
Read Poem
0
90
Rating:

Birches by Robert Frost
Robert Frost
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
Read Poem
0
76
Rating:

Cleon by Robert Browning
Robert Browning
"As certain also of your own poets have said"—
(Acts 17.28)
Cleon the poet (from the sprinkled isles,
Lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea
And laugh their pride when the light wave lisps "Greece")—
To Protus in his Tyranny: much health!
Read Poem
0
96
Rating:

In Reference to her Children, 23 June 1659 by Anne Bradstreet
Anne Bradstreet
I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
Four Cocks were there, and Hens the rest.
I nurst them up with pain and care,
No cost nor labour did I spare
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the Trees and learned to sing.
Chief of the Brood then took his flight
To Regions far and left me quite.
My mournful chirps I after send
Till he return, or I do end.
Leave not thy nest, thy Dame and Sire,
Fly back and sing amidst this Quire.
My second bird did take her flight
And with her mate flew out of sight.
Southward they both their course did bend,
Read Poem
0
71
Rating: