Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My hand is upon the stones



This poem, which I will be posting in its entirety over these first few days of September, focuses primarily on the wonder and meaning of dry stone walls. The author (who surprisingly you will know, and I would therefore like to credit at the end of the poem, rather than give it away now) explores the more nobel attributes of old stone walls and their universal appeal to the senses.

Simple walls of fieldstone, collected and carefully stacked along the borders of farmland which was painstaking cleared so many years ago, walls similar to the ones Robert Frost writes so eloquently of in his poetry, can also be found in parts of Canada too, if you know where to look. Those of us in this country who love dry stone walls, and have felt their inexplicable attraction, will no doubt relate to the essential musing of this poem, even though some of the imagery may seem nationalistic and somewhat idealistic.

I invite you to let your imagination go and see dry stone walls through someone elses eyes, and then perhaps try to guess who the author is.

Please wait until the end and let it be a surprise.


Come walk with me, and I will tell 
What I have read in this scroll of stone; 
I will spell out this writing 
on hill and meadow. 
It is a chronicle wrought by praying workmen, 
The forefathers of our nation-- 
Leagues upon leagues of sealed history 
awaiting an interpreter. 
This is New England's tapestry of stone 
Alive with memories that throb and quiver 


At the core of the ages 
As the prophecies of old 
at the heart of God's Word.  
The walls have many things to tell me, 
And the days are long. I come and listen: 
My hand is upon the stones, and the tale 
I fain would hear Is of the men 
who built the walls, 
And of the God who made the stones 
and the workers.  
With searching feet 
I walk beside the wall; 
I plunge and stumble 
over the fallen stones; 
I follow the windings of the wall 
Over the heaving hill, 
down by the meadow-brook, 
Beyond the scented fields, 
by the marsh where rushes grow. 
On I trudge through pine woods 
fragrant and cool 
And emerge amid clustered pools 
and by rolling acres of rye. 

The wall is builded of field-stones great and small, 
Tumbled about by frost and storm, 
Shaped and polished 
by ice and rain and sun; 
Some flattened, grooved, and chiseled 
By the inscrutable sculpture 
of the weather; 
Some with clefts and rough edges 
harsh to the touch. 
Gracious Time has glorified the wall 
And covered the historian stones 
with a mantle of green. 
Sunbeams flit and waver in the rifts, 
Vanish and reappear, linger and sleep, 
Conquer with radiance the obdurate angles
Filter between the naked rents 
and wind-bleached jags.

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