Being that can be understood is language.
— Hans-Georg Gadamer
Like an old horse my cycle shows
once more it knows this road,
finds the spiral path that leads above
to river’s edge and flood, begins
the climb grown steeper year by year,
my mind still on Dilthey and the poet’s
life as guide, trapped in old earth’s
deadly maze, slowly dying of the truth.
* * *
Upon the bridge the fall’s cold breath.
Autumnal waters flow beneath to find
As fierce the sea as fish seek graveled death.
Currents strip red clay from withered
hands that grip steep crumbled slopes
where vines like styxic shades enshroud
dead trees in fatal pall. Berry brambles brown
the water’s way, bare branches crack
a darkening sky, the stream of life
indifferent to the mills along its banks.
I hear them calling long before they come,
cries wailing down their cycled course,
ghostly shapes that tap the tops with wings
of mists that burrow in the river’s rim
like snakes aware the winter’s in the wind,
black brant geese in arcing line offset
to damp the blow and buffet of the sky,
tribing south from snowy tundra iced beneath the Bear.
* * *
Fluent feathers sigh their tale of earthly rhythm’s
rise and fall, of currents in the savage stream
and havens sweet at journey’s end, of knowledge
arcing in the blood: des Geistes Weg der Umweg,
detour our spirit’s way. Their music, muted by the mist,
calls to me within the dark. Come! I hear them cry, Come!
Beneath shorn trees where dry leaves cling
with stubborn grip to bough, I stand.
Brothers and sisters, stay for me,
for I would fly the river’s course
and also come down to the sea.
They hear me not, it seems, or scorn to stop
on my behalf. Have I heard them wrong?
Then in the dark the grey bird speaks,
Minerva’s owl begins its flight und
Flammen sehe ich sicherlich, awake
to the fire in the night, flames ablaze
above our sight to guide lost pilgrims
in the dark, linked to Spirit by threads
of light, lit by the oil of a blessed tree, an olive
not of East nor West, so pure it burns without
a spark, our life’s quest its simple truth: when
the leaves fall from the trees, we see the stars.
* * *
Now I hear them call anew, this time hear
them true. Soon!... soon!... soon! their cry,
and they are gone, swept down the wind.
So I turn once more upon my way, but yet
I know, somewhere, a river’s reach beyond,
around a bend, they’ll wait for me.