Small and meek, I grow into the cosmic order,
my brothers speak the same words as I, lifted from
idleness, we gaze at the sphere of the earth.
The earth has been neatly drawn, the ground is
indomitable, we set up our white houses long ago and
bordered them in blue.
Its furrowed surface is worked into a wistful sky, live
dark belts encircle it, all measures have banded
Streams purl over the earth and springs gurgle, forests
saturate, fields sprawl in tacit persistence, flies swarm
in the sunlight, gnats over twilight paths.
From village to village it is neither too far nor too near,
enclosed gardens surround the homesteads, a dark
green hedge looks out over a fence.
Fruit trees ripen around the houses, the wind prowls in
their branches, a steep trail leads up to the vineyards,
down to the cellar where mallet blows thud dully.
Huge wardrobes stand in the parlors, the wall clock’s
pendulum chats with eternity, a cat kneads by the
oven, and apricot trees blossom in the soft grass
below the fields.
The sun illuminates the great altar at evening, mass and
the people’s singing blends with incense, while now
and then a schoolboy drops his hat.
Girls wear white kerchiefs to vespers, a flower pressed
in the prayer book of each, and during the way of the
cross they glance at the acolytes in black.
Pigeons cluck in the graveyard chapel, bats hang in the
church tower, bees have their hive by the stream and
mushrooms grow in places only old wives know.
Modest plum and apple trees flower in fertile ground,
grain billows over gentle hillsides and flatlands,
an occasional fish leaps out of the frothy water.
Fields of dry gold lie benumbed in the summer heat,
shepherds light fires in high autumn meadows, a song
about vineyards resounds amid strokes of mallets.
We dance at banquets and listen to a comical fiddler, and
as we sort through seeds by the warm stove the wind
and a creaky wagon strapped with chains go past
Experience dozes on the hay and in forests, love stirs in
distracted young boys, candles burn at graves
and bells chime at midnight mass.
The holidays range from All Souls to Corpus christi and
Marymas, buckwheat follows wheat, turnips barley,
we set out potatoes in the fallows, clover grows
wild among the wheat.
People are like ants in the fields and on hillsides, at
times a voice calls from the distance, which another
Asleep, there is a flicker of the thought of work, during
work hope smolders, hope is tinged with sadness,
then church bells ring again.
Lifted from out of idleness we gaze at the earth’s sphere,
and lo, the more deeply we stare, the heavier the
deepness, stunned with pain we taste the bitterness of roots.
And look, smoke sweeps the horizon, swallows look
plaintively from their nests, a bronze bell has
cracked down the middle.
In silence mothers rock their children, potter’s wheels
stop, fabric rips on the loom, day laborers have bent
their backs for years.
O land of our fathers, given to us like an enchanted
princess, when will you be saved?
You are our night phantom, our morning burden,
midday muddle and evening sadness, holy
redemption wells up within us.
Disowned, you endure, great mother, quietly calling us,
you have been ravaged, fertile body, and your
children put to shame.
Our footsteps cry out to you, our kinship and comfort,
we lift up our hands from your ancient soil and
At night your eyes open like a passionflower, you take
count of us, beside your hearth our souls beat as one.
You are the ark of our covenant, which we guard, we
must be watchful each night and sing the songs we
are pledged to.
O fearsome ripening of the ageless secret, unspeakably
strong wine, we sense you in our blood, we are drunk
like young fathers.