High above human thought the stars are bright

High above human thought the stars are bright ,
Black trees grope skyward through a drift of snow ,
Darkened the stable , but the children know
That ox and ass are kneeling there tonight :
Keep silent vigil in the candlelight ,
As once three shepherds by a manger low :
Star guided bearing gifts , long years ago
Three kings rode westward to adore this sight .

Sweet helpless child , warm in thy manger sleep ,
While rank on rank the hosts of heaven stand guard :
In this thy mother’s hour we call to her —
Lady , pray thou for us who vigil keep :
Guide , star ; our burdened souls come riding hard ,
With gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh .

Received 31st December 1951

He can read Spanish? No. Italian? No

He can read Spanish? No. Italian? No.
Why then so many poets lodged with care ,
It seems , well worn? Look on the shelf below ,
His keys to half the continent lie there .

Those massive lexicons ? What toil and pain
Through such a wilderness of words to track
A sense obscure ! His path lies smooth and plain ,
For him no forced delays , no turning back .
Why so ? Where rhythms coil he loves at sight
Some seven words , and seeks them . . . shadowed lawn
Summer . . . the moon . . . young love . . .
Sufficient light to dream , all comprehending , till the dawn .

31st December 1951


We come with the wind, we gather within your garden
Swift as the drift of autumn leaves on a lawn :
We whisper at every window, we wail in the wind
High as the cry of a bat in the gathering twilight
Small as the call of a bird half heard at dawn.

Drive us away in the dusk before it darkens,
Soon as the moon is high in heaven we are here :
We mourn aloud in the moonlight ; we sigh in the shade,
Faint as the plaint of a night wind in the sallows
Wild as a child unknown alone with fear.

Ghosts of a dream, the good deeds you neglected,
How can we now redeem our wrongful distress ?
You must salve our sorrow when mercy stirs in your mind,
Free as the sea you must wander, pity and pardon,
Give while you live till death your breath suppress.

Received — 20.3.51