WITH DANIEL G. HOFFMAN, WHO IS IN DIRE SICKNESS
the world—the world’s alive with God
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God”
You can shake
it out—“like shining from shook foil.”
The world’s a vale of trouble and of toil
Divine hand shapes, though it may rot and spoil.
“The end is
near,” said Dan—not world, but Dan.
Why should God will the unmaking of a man?
the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay
Do not go gentle”—is it a “good night”?
means “God be with you,” but God’s the reason
We last barely longer than a season
great enemy”—God brings the night
And brings the light that follows on the night.
Copyright © 2013 Jack Foley
Given: that glebe and gorse and grounded
be seared by scorch of the merciless sun;
that hillock and ridge rust, though
is none: that North, nimbus the wood needs
grind like a grate high over the ground;
that ash of dead fires from dark heavens
make scape of land sea, while snowtide
nor furrows deepfilled nor furze nor
Here in the sameness of space is horizon
in an age of dying. But deep in the heavens
sinuous surges of sun prick the crystal
and sink to earth’s center; sap stirs
in blood as in root with burgeon and
The ground heaves, and green is the girth
of the meadow
the sun-faced groundsel
in seedfields, row on
of greenlanced barley
Gorse drinks the
Besought: from unstinting sun, from the
phoenixes four ever fecund
from kestrel and crab, from kine, from tall
from all that is born to bequeath its
to share in the source of that ceaseless
to feel the energy under the flesh
rise in the rhythm of the world’s return.
But witness are we that wane of winter
Precedes the singing of cuckoo in sedge,
That greenbriar bursts through a compost
All that’s alive is enfeoffed to the dead.
Death quitclaims none yet conquers never;
the egg’s in the ash, ever inviolate.
O Sovereign Source Whom we beseech
of Life-in-Death and Death-in-Life,
deliver us, unworthy, to worship thy works,
permit us to praise with our tongues thy
to see thy divinity dwell in our shape
whose holy human breath
and speech is ours, who
endure His life and
in septuagennial span.
Moves among us a miracle maker,
came on a winey wind to call
into this forest His faithful forth.
At crest of moon the coven convenes:
black sky’s scaled by bonefire: sun
recalled to burn bleak night to day.
With besom He beats the deathdark back,
beckons with brand His band to the light.
Now skirl of pipes and skittle of bones
hymns our homage in halidom wild.
In laughter and love life’s force we
cleft foot, calved foot cross round
and merry the mirth that mingles with
The God in Man whose
we cry at last has come
His marriage rite to
Round and round goes ring and round
in the holy stations of the Sun.
Submagus Tuck the ember takes,
chanting, ‘Fire, O fecund source
of life returning, burn, eternal
Sun and soul!’ The circle third
is finished. Flame the Friar replaces.
Bread he beckons and breaks. The ram
this morning spitted is served and spent.
Now Robin waves, winecasks come:
goodwives, Maid, their God and men
mingle mortal joy and make
sing ‘Robin, Marian,
thy supplicants with
Foster our happiness
who do Thy praises
To skittle and skirl now wheels and skips
in skimble-skamble scamper spinning
through murk of must and moon’s-horn dusk
the dance! Toward trance, toward
they leap and rush, reel and tremble:
tuck whispers, hoarse, ‘A hare am I!
Take me, earth!’ and down he tumbles.
Leaps to the sky Long John! Will
seizes Suky and somersaults!
Much wafts his hands: ‘I’m windblown wheat;
I beckon thee, birds, devour my body!’
Robin spreads wide wings: ‘The sparrow
That last year gobbled they grain I slew.
You’re free! Then Marian falls on fours,
Rears, and whinnies, ‘The world I’ll foal!’
Bonebonds wrought to wraiths of will
they run, soar, swim, conjoin
in images bursting brain and blood,
as thew and thigh and thought rejoice,
bodied forth as fanes
wherein each lover lies
stag-strong and scarlet
the whiteness of her
Tongues pierce inward, redly touching:
in glade where gladness gushed in a
faggots’ crackle fades, hissing;
alone the woodlouse reels on the log.
Clouds of stars crinkle in heaven;
a nightjar burbles belated rills;
murmuring leaves, murmuring grasses;
the dark moves in; a muffled sigh,
a breath in sleep’s instinctual stirring:
—this scene’s the ember’s eye regards.
Sounds of silence stroke the forest—
ratchet of claws, birdwings’ rustle,
a wind of waking wafts the halflight.
Under the briery bush the bride
slumbers still beyond all sorrows.
Horned groom, god or halfgod, softly
sunders from her, in own self shapen.
What does he see in the ember staring?
Passes green fingers through yesternight’s
of ash tall cock thrice
Sun leaps from East to
All’s well. Each
singing, renewed, and
From A Little Geste and Other Poems
THE COMING OF ROBIN
Copyright © 2013
Hoffman was appointed the
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to
the Library of Congress in 1973.
In 1954, he published his first
collection of poetry, An Armada of
Thirty Whales. This collection was
W. H. Auden as part of the
Yale Series of Younger Poets,
Auden commended it in his introduction
as "providing a new direction for nature
poetry in the post-Wordsworthian world."
He has since published ten additional
collections of poetry, a memoir, and
seven volumes of criticism. Reviewing
Beyond Silence in The New York
Times Book Review in 2003, Eric
McHenry found Hoffman a poet of
remarkable consistency, "no less joyful
or engaged at 80 than he was at 25."
Hoffman has taught at Columbia
Swarthmore College, and the University
of Pennsylvania. He
retired from the latter as Felix
Schelling Professor of English Emeritus,
and its Philomathean Society in 1996
published an anthology of poetry in
honor of his efforts to bring
contemporary poets to give readings in
their halls. He is a chancellor emeritus
of the Academy of American Poets. From 1988
to 1999, he served as Poet in Residence
at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in
New York City, where he administered the
American Poets' Corner.
Jack Foley is a widely-published San Francisco
poet known for his "spoken-word performances" which
involve choruses. His
Cover to Cover
radio show, can be heard online at
Berkley Radio KPFA
by Leonard Breger