Loren Eiseley

Words on a Spring Road

From Prairie Schooner

I have seen spring come in the ditches, and the plowed land
stir and the leaves move and the roots thrust. It is good.
It is good.
Though only the blood to myself speaking, the road bare,
the feet going, not coming,
though the red turn green, though the young willow buds are
new on the stem.

Fumbling old mind in the future doomed for me
when the light is gone and the break burns harshly
as dust in the weak lungs—it will be good to remember
earth and slow things though all the braver
follies have left me—leave me earth and sharp stone.

I have stood here and stared a long time
in the eyes of spent age, untamed and not merciful,
felt strength as untamable flame at the end.
Withered hawk’s head at the end of this nightmare,
gaunt bundle of bones and lean beak staring back,
I have looked at you steadily.
Now answer, oh, promise, “Though stumbling pitifully
Yet he walks, he still smolders,
he burns with this fire.”

Reprinted from Prairie Schooner Vol IX No 3 (Summer 1935) by permission of University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1935 by the Wordsmiths of Sigma Upsilon.