Looking Across the Fields and Watching the Birds Fly
by Wallace Stevens
Among the more irritating minor ideas
Of Mr. Homburg during his visits home
To Concord, at the edge of things, was this:
To think away the grass, the trees, the clouds,
Not to transform them into other things,
Is only what the sun does every day,
Until we say to ourselves that there may be
A pensive nature, a mechanical
And slightly detestable operandum, free
From man's ghost, larger and yet a little like,
Without his literature and without his gods . . .
No doubt we live beyond ourselves in air,
In an element that does not do for us,
So well, that which we do for ourselves, too big,
A thing not planned for imagery or belief,
Not one of the masculine myths we used to make,
A transparency through which the swallow weaves,
Without any form or any sense of form,
What we know in what we see, what we feel in what
We hear, what we are, beyond mystic disputation,
In the tumult of integrations out of the sky,
And what we think, a breathing like the wind,
A moving part of a motion, a discovery
Part of a discovery, a change part of a change,
A sharing of color and being part of it.
The afternoon is visibly a source,
Too wide, too irised, to be more than calm,
Too much like thinking to be less than thought,
Obscurest parent, obscurest patriarch,
A daily majesty of meditation,
That comes and goes in silences of its own.
We think, then, as the sun shines or does not.
We think as wind skitters on a pond in a field
Or we put mantles on our words because
The same wind, rising and rising, makes a sound
Like the last muting of winter as it ends.
A new scholar replacing and older one reflects
A moment on this fantasia. He seeks
For a human that can be accounted for.
The spirit comes from the body of the world,
Or so Mr. Homburg thought: the body of a world
Whose blunt laws make an affectation of mind,
The mannerism of nature caught in a glass
And there become a spirit's mannerism,
A glass aswarm with things going as far as they can.
Hours pass, and the woods rush toward the edge of shadow. The clouds have grown dense, have blacked out the moon itself, have captured its light to fill themselves with its glow. At last, small drops of rain fall. I hear them slap leaves and ping on the metal cover of the driveway lamp. They fall on my skin and evaporate, leving small spots of cold. They fall on the shoulder of my jacket, very near my ear, and the soft sound is immediately followed by the scent of the damp cloth. They fall all around, and their oddly dry sound fills the dim night. The conversation has been brought down to earth.