I’m still dealing with this lingering cold (given how long this is taking, some might call it “malingering”, but I’m not faking, I swear!)—at this point, I can’t speak above a whisper. Anyway, I hope to get some posting done on Wilder’s novel this week (as it’s break), but now it’s time for a poem. I picked up Edna St. Vincent Millay’s The Buck in the Snow, published in 1928, and as I read more and more of her, I realize that she’s a poet who, when she “hits”, knocks it out of the park. But when she misses….man, are we left with some uninteresting sing-song end rhyme. This particular collection is, to my taste, mostly misses, but the following is a poem I thought had at least something going for it. I’m curious how it goes over with all of you—without further ado, “Hangman’s Oak”:
Before the cock in the barnyard spoke,
Before it well was day,
Horror like a serpent from about the Hangman’s Oak
Uncoiled and slid away.
Pity and Peace were on the limb
That bore such bitter fruit.
Deep he lies, and the desperate blood of him
Befriends the innocent root.
Brother, I said to the air beneath the bough
Whence he had swung,
It will not be long for any of us now;
We do not grow young.
It will not be long for the knotter of ropes, not long
For the sheriff or for me,
Or for any of them that came five hundred strong
To see you swing from a tree.
Side by side together in the belly of Death
We sit without hope,
You, and I, and the mother that gave you breath,
And the tree, and the rope.