Babette Deutsch





The Laurels All Are Cut

We'll to the woods no more, for now 
The winter of delight is here: 
Earth stony as the fabled moon, 
The sky lean-faced, as withering soon, 
Rains cannot warm the damned bough 
Where sits the gutter chanticleer. 

There was a season when we walked 
In meadows that were dim with blue 
And violet life our sharp heels bruised. 
The ground kept what the heavens refused 
Of color, and a tall wind stalked 
Beside us, gathering handfuls, too. 

And when the blue was lost there came 
A scattered scarlet in its stead. 
The grass grew staunchly round each nest 
Where sun-fed berries, breast to breast, 
Nestled as bright as tropic flame, 
And we drank honey where they bled. 

These gone, there was a month as bright 
As dreams of India to the West 
Before the land of gold was snared. 
The field lay still, its russet-haired 
Warm pelt stroked smooth by drowsy light, 
Till the sun slept, and dark was best. 

We'll to the woods no more, for now 
The winter of delight is here. 
But in our blood the summer cries 
Compassion on the bird that dies 
And leaves no ghost upon the bough 
To chill with song the sluggish year.