P t E RSPE C TEVE S
'PERSPECTIVES Page Seven
GIANTS IN THE EARTH
I sought the top the other day.
I-climbed a hill past topmost trees
And ached and pained and smarted
And shook and trembled all the way
And panting hung and slipped degrees
And held, while watchers started.
My heart beat at the task I chose,
Condemned such madness, taut and failing.
But gain the peak I could
And did-so fought the air and rose
And gulped the goal and sang out, hailing,
And skyembracing stood.
I would not see them watching me-
A cloudy ocean upside down
Was all that I was after.
The world was smaller than my spree;
A tiny, painted, doll-house town
Backdropped my tipsy laughter.
Its ribboned smoke stretched broad and high,
Uneasy, upward quivering strung
And fenced my sky yard there.
But I was quite alone-'twas I
Felt rebel winds that quickening stung-
My sturdy breath ran spare
And I feared the footholds fouled en route
And the useless branch uptorn below
And my slippery smooth downgrade.
All mine the precipice to shoot;
Alone aloft I struggled slow
With a price the world has paid.
CAFE: RIVER STREET
Here, where the night is extra thick with fog,
The suicidal neon by the creek
Shudders in expectation, and the Greek
Bestrides his stool as Pan would sit a log;
At midnight, from the mansions of their sires,
The jobless cognoscenti, caps pulled down
On faces truculent with old desires,
Descend upon the Greek's place from the town;
Their looms are idle, but the stomach asks
More reassurance than the empty milla-
Its windows dark, improvident of tasks-
Reflects at sundown by the river hill;
And thus the bacon of their youth gets done
To crisp upon an unscrubbed iron grate,
Their coffee through the rusty urn is run
A score of times, and drunk in smiling hate;
Their plaints proceed to banter, and their eyes
Grow weary with the stale jest and the lewd,
The Greek stands hairily above his pies:
He dreams of Thessalian pulchritude;
The cop turns at the corner of his beat,
Stares in through misted windows at the crowd,
Patrols once more the stricken, abject street,
And joins the eaters, for he is not proud.
-Lawrence P. Spingarn
Cromwell led to victory;
And Pershing won the war.
Teddy up hill gloriously;
Oh good old days of yore!
Once Newton added two and two,
Spallanzani did his share-
Remember Reer who asked his crew?
Remember their noble dare?
Sister has paralysis.
She alone will know
That brother joy in life must miss
'Because he wills it so.
The lover asks not what's to pay,
He will dig down low
And sound the depths of life away;
No medals will he show.
Giants in the earth are with us still,
And unknown names are bound in time:
Broad heaven reads their books at will-
The footnotes praise the common rhyme.
DRYNESS IN SPRINGTIME
To think of time as a moth, or even as a May,
To be happy, though too hurried to be gay,
To remember to forget the time to be,
When what we cringe to image we will surely see,
When we will die perhaps to dull the fangs of fear,-
These are the pleasures of this Spring, this brittle year.
Sun, grass, leaves, noise and petty things
Are signs of life; each pretty symbol brings
Its negative before the mind of one who knows
The terror of the full moon, imagined blows
He will deal blindfold, counter to faith, tangent to hope.
So, while within the day the mind desires to grope,
Today trades places with tomorrow and the part,
And futile-happy is the prayer that thus to last
Will be our fate. No one can wish that prayer unprayed,
For no one can face us, to mock us unafraid.
-David M. Stocking
"Night air is poisonous," her husband said,
Said it for thirty years,
And she would close the window at her head,
Boiling with inward tears:
"The fool, you'd think he'd roast these sultry days!"
But he was born a White,
And like his father loved old things and ways,
And both were always right.
He fixed the stable roof and fixed it well,
As Whites had always done.
His father's ladder broke, and down he fell
To die in air and sun.
She married one year from th burial rites
A doctor in the town.
He wonders why on sultry August nights
She puts the window down.