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.
 
November on the Lake Michigan Dunes
By Howard Mumford Jones
 
THE DUNES are graves that shift and dance,
  Showing a skeleton
When by the pushing wind’s advance
  Their coffin is undone,
And in the ribbed and bitter sand        5
  A murdered tree puts out
A white limb like a ghastly hand,
  A dead trunk like a snout.
 
The dunes are ghosts that line the beach,
  Hidden and veiled and wild,        10
Now holding silence, each with each,
  Now lisping like a child.
And to their speech the waves reply,
  The wind and the low waves,
Whispering and wildly wondering why        15
  They talk of ghosts and graves.
 
They are as graves, they are as ghosts,
  They are as sphinxes set
For umpires on these desolate coasts
  With life and death at fret:        20
Life with her grass and juniper,
  Death with his cloud of sand,
She strives with him and he with her
  Between the lake and land.
 
The poplars and the pines are hers        25
  His are the sands and wind;
Sometimes his desperate breathing blurs
  The air till she grows blind.
She clutches up the dune to seek
  Sometime his throat to kill;        30
And always the troubled waters speak,
  Always the sea-gulls shrill.
 
The wind is fellow once with Death,
  Storming against the land;
He howls across the hills, his breath        35
  Burdened with snow and sand.
The wind is fellow once with Life,
  Sweeping against the sea,
Sweeping across the waves in strife
  With Death for enemy.        40
 
Yet life and death and land and lake—
  To him what things are these?
Whether the sand-dunes shoreward shake,
  Fleeing the broken seas,
Whether the water be as glass        45
  Or wild beasts without chains,
They change and shift and scud and pass,
  Only the wind remains!
 
Only the wind! The dead leaves flee,
  Like smoke the blue lake fades,        50
The hills flow down into the sea,
  And night and day like shades
About a carried lantern run,
  Jigging alternately,
And star and moon and bolted sun        55
  Slide crazily in the sky.
 
O God! The whole world, like the dunes,
  Dances fantastic-wise
Down to what end, before what tunes,
  Beneath what dancing skies!        60
And blown along like grains of sand
  Ourselves must whirl and flee
Before a wind across the land
  Into what open sea!
 
 
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