Sylvia Plath |
Old goatherds swear how all night long they hear
The warning whirr and burring of the bird
Who wakes with darkness and till dawn works hard
Vampiring dry of milk each great goat udder.
Moon full, moon dark, the chary dairy farmer
Dreams that his fattest cattle dwindle, fevered
By claw-cuts of the Goatsucker, alias Devil-bird,
Its eye, flashlit, a chip of ruby fire.
So fables say the Goatsucker moves, masked from men's sight
In an ebony air, on wings of witch cloth,
Well-named, ill-famed a knavish fly-by-night,
Yet it never milked any goat, nor dealt cow death
And shadows only--cave-mouth bristle beset--
Cockchafers and the wan, green luna moth.
Carl Sandburg |
THIS Mohammedan colonel from the Caucasus yells with his voice and wigwags with his arms.
The interpreter translates, “I was a friend of Kornilov, he asks me what to do and I tell him.
A stub of a man, this Mohammedan colonel … a projectile shape … a bald head hammered …
“Does he fight or do they put him in a cannon and shoot him at the enemy?”
This fly-by-night, this bull-roarer who knows everybody.
“I write forty books, history of Islam, history of Europe, true religion, scientific farming, I am the Roosevelt of the Caucasus, I go to America and ride horses in the moving pictures for $500,000, you get $50,000 …”
“I have 30,000 acres in the Caucasus, I have a stove factory in Petrograd the bolsheviks take from me, I am an old friend of the Czar, I am an old family friend of Clemenceau …”
These hands strangled three fellow workers for the czarist restoration, took their money, sent them in sacks to a river bottom … and scandalized Stockholm with his gang of strangler women.
Mid-sea strangler hands rise before me illustrating a wish, “I ride horses for the moving pictures in America, $500,000, and you get ten per cent …”
This rider of fugitive dawns.
Carl Sandburg |
WAGON WHEEL GAP is a place I never saw
And Red Horse Gulch and the chutes of Cripple Creek.
Red-shirted miners picking in the sluices,
Gamblers with red neckties in the night streets,
The fly-by-night towns of Bull Frog and Skiddoo,
The night-cool limestone white of Death Valley,
The straight drop of eight hundred feet
From a shelf road in the Hasiampa Valley:
Men and places they are I never saw.
I have seen three White Horse taverns,
One in Illinois, one in Pennsylvania,
One in a timber-hid road of Wisconsin.
I bought cheese and crackers
Between sun showers in a place called White Pigeon
Nestling with a blacksmith shop, a post-office,
And a berry-crate factory, where four roads cross.
On the Pecatonica River near Freeport
I have seen boys run barefoot in the leaves
Throwing clubs at the walnut trees
In the yellow-and-gold of autumn,
And there was a brown mash dry on the inside of their hands.
On the Cedar Fork Creek of Knox County
I know how the fingers of late October
Loosen the hazel nuts.
I know the brown eyes of half-open hulls.
I know boys named Lindquist, Swanson, Hildebrand.
I remember their cries when the nuts were ripe.
And some are in machine shops; some are in the navy;
And some are not on payrolls anywhere.
Their mothers are through waiting for them to come home.