Hearing music unheard

Hearing music unheard,

Songs of the Birdcatcher's Daughter, poems entombed as images

locked in the throat of a poet, witnessing ages long-gone,

long-buried from our listening, now charmed form a sleep of hieratic

by Foster - O magus-translator!

I know by the sweep of my River,

this Charles pulsing through Boston like love in the breast of the Birdcatcher's

Daughter, like lovers embodied to freshen again the Nile Valley

with flow of their youthful cursive mementos, poignant, promising:

I sense, from my highrise terrace,

how once beyond dusty millenia, alive in the land of pharaohs

young lovers exchanged with phrases handwritten a vow, an ardor -

then, in a Theban Dead City - as here where they lie in the sunlight

on banks of my River bordering urban contemporary margins.

No palm tree here, no pomegranate

avails a succulent metaphor. Yet sycamore grows by the sea-bent

water, resplendent in Cambridge: not edible, Scriptural sycamore

mulberry-leaved, fig-bearing, but native, the shading plane tree,

mottled of bark, revealing cream-colored layers beneath,

viridian hearts for foliage, soft plush burrs for fruit.

All kinds of trees can serve

the poet in his want.

And always, always a River!

And birds! I need not snare

their flight with myrrh and sweetgum, but leave them airborne, free

to cross, criss-cross my vision as once in Egypt someone

might liberate her longing to calls of wild geese crying:

the catcher caught, and gladly.

So gladly now in meshes

of ancient eloquence, in songs of the New Kingdom

on ostracon, on papyrus, this woman's taken captive -

late in our twentieth century - by time-encompassing syllables

imprisoning her ear.

O rare, O resonant syntax

where I may move increased by words of sweet constraint

whose bars expand my vista these many histories later,

whose limits fling my horizon beyond my hour toward aeons

not dead but young, perennially young in their flesh and fervor,

young, unknown, living to love to outlast forever,

now, now by a River.

Always, always a River.

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