Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Descent
By Ivan Swift
 
IT is large life to sit on the door-log
Of the Hill Tavern,
Among the distinguished birches
Standing in groups,
And look beyond the monotonous green floor        5
Of the matted tree-tops of the lower land
To the high horizon and the barges,
And the purple island in a ring of gold.
 
But I am of the lowland,
Of the undistinguished trees and juniper,        10
And must go down the deliberate trail
Of the undistinguished dead—
And no noon.
 
Below the bluff-rim—
The trees now are more separate        15
And individual of pattern;
But the dusk marries them to one another,
And their top branches intertwine,
Like parasols in a crowded park of listeners,
As far as the path leads to the valley terrace.        20
Then the black belt of tamarack
And tangled bittersweet
Is like the Lower Ten, leaning on brothers
To make stand against the uncertain winds,
And dying in the smother of a brief day.        25
Out of this and on the far side, I knew—
And the stranger would scarce surmise
And rarely venture—
The sun dances in golden tack-points
On the near, cool shallows of the sea.        30
The gray islands have gone down
Over the world’s rim,
And the freight barges are companion buoys
Floating in pairs under thin smoke fans.
The ring of gold is at my feet, glistening!—        35
Washed clean by the white surf-reefs
Broken by the blue shadow of a gull.
A single tiger-lily
Flames in a whorl of beach-juniper.
 
 
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