The Nacreous Oughts

22 June 2008

    "The Lady with the Heron"

I walk athirst
In a month of rain;
Drought I learned
At the feet of a heron.

Green trees, full rivers;
Athirst I went,
With a shrieking bird
In the drawn breath.

At the only spring
When I went for water
I met a lady
And thirst I had none.

I say, at the fountain
There I met a lady,
She led a blue heron
By the beck of her hand.

Moon-wise the owl is,
The wren not tame,
But I unlearned patience
At the feet of a heron.

So deep the water
As those her eyes
Kissed I never
At the lip of April.

Drink, sir, she said,
Of so sweet water.
The bird was blind
That she led by a shadow.

Lady, I said,
Thirst is no longer.
But she led my eyes
By the beck of her hand.

Of her eyes I drank
And no other water.
Hope I unlearned
At the feet of a bird.

And saw no face
When I bent there;
Such saw I never
In other water.

My lips not wet,
Yet was she gone
Leading a heron
By the shade of her hand.

And my eyes thirst
On the birdless air;
Blindness I learned
At the feet of a heron.

--W S Merwin

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