The Primal Sympathy

[Also available in issue #15 of The Literary Hatchet.]

Dedicated to the spirits of William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, and Dr. Seuss.

I miss a thing that never was.
I miss it most, in fact, because
It never yet has let me down—
But then, it has not yet been found.

It's like a thing within a dream
Or in a painting, though it seems
That really it's what lies behind
The images that come to mind.

For instance, not the looming cloud
That serves the painting as a shroud,
That tries to keep the battered house
Protected, as it would a mouse.

And not the golden stalks that part
Before the plowman and his art.
But maybe something in the way
A window in the house was made.

A streak or two of darkest hues
Is what effects the comely ruse
That from that shadowed window pane
A face looks out in fear, in vain.

It may not even be the case
That I was meant to see a face,
Yet there it is for me to see,
Imagined or compulsory.

Or looking past the painter’s brush,
I find the same unbidden hush.
In lyre and drum, in tales of yore—
In acting, dance, and others, for ...

It's not the notes upon the sheet
That fill me up with kindled heat.
It's how they're played and what's between
That tells me what they truly mean.

And when I read the truest words,
It's music like I've never heard,
A kind of song that will not wage
Its restless wars upon the page.

A sculptor, I’ve been told, need not
Know how to sculpt an aspect sought,
But only have the smarts to know
He’s done it when the clay is so.

And if no art is near at hand
My curiosity might land
Upon the works of Nature’s will:
From dale to wood to sea to hill.

Though hidden mostly in the night,
By day few things give more delight.
Just as the moon and stars by day
Are hidden but at night are gay.

I miss a thing I cannot name.
I miss it though it never came.
It speaks to me without a sound
Yet seems to make the world go round.


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