The stillness of this night is such that the sound of a single falling leaf striking another leaf echoes through the cold air, and an acorn hitting a rooftop cracks like a rifle report. Clouds are again concealing the stars. Orion is up there, somewhere, draped in a gray shroud. How like midwinter it feels tonight! In a narrow shaft of light that escapes a window shade, I see my breath's fog drift and vanish into surrounding dark. It will settle later, dew on the sharp needles of the solemn pines which I sense as much as see, aspiring to the slightly less dark sky. Dawn will arrive in a while, but I, huddled under covers, shall not see it. Now is time for sleep.
by Richard Wilbur
As if a cast of grain leapt back to the hand, A landscapeful of small black birds, intent On the far south, convene at some command At once in the middle of the air, at once are gone With headlong and unanimous consent From the pale trees and fields they settled on.
What is an individual thing? They roll Like a drunken fingerprint across the sky! Or so I give their image to my soul Until, as if refusing to be caught In any singular vision of my eye Or in the nets and cages of my thought,
They tower up, shatter, and madden space With their divergences, are each alone Swallowed from sight, and leave me in this place Shaping these images to make them stay: Meanwhile, in some formation of their own, They fly me still, and steal my thoughts away.
Delighted with myself and with the birds, I set them down and give them leave to be. It is by words and the defeat of words, Down sudden vistas of the vain attempt, That for a flying moment one may see By what cross-purposes the world is dreamt.