A bowstring taut with afternoon
The cricket cello deep within the walk
Where russet refuse frosts before the musing moon
Where waving weed surrenders shrill the strident stalk
And rustling reed reverberates with locust-talk
Goldenrod is squired in beggar’s splendor
And races through the tree-boles in a tippling rime
Heavy is the hickory and easy is provender
And gentian’s pensive cups resound with rhyme
When, in their depths, they space the cricket’s chime.
Note: This poem was written under the pseudonym Harry Charles ( Harry was Roger’s grandfather, Charles is his brother).
In the darkness, in unfathomed depths,
Silent, self-absorbed does the cicada lie
Awaiting its brief moment to emerge, and whirr and die
And so do I.
High on a thistle the gaudy swallowtail—
The collector’s apogee—sits ready to take flight,
Not to be caught; while on the week
The wingless aphis, causative of blight
Looks upward, like me,
In self-scorn and delight.
All about me mate and whirr, taking delight
In the brief moment that this their summer’s noon
While I live along by reflected light
In the midst of midnight an unnoticed moon
Whose day has flown too soon, too soon.
Fluttering in from the horizon,
Wing on wing, from the Spring of time,
They come, a gossamer horde
Semaphoring in the endless day,
They meet, mate, and provide
Provender for their young,
And then they die.
But now from this
Another wave is generated to move on.
What then? Well, they believe
That crumpling one brood on another brood,
An infinity of butterflies will coax
An archibutterfly to come,
And lead them from a world of birds and wasps,
And other accomplices of woe
To where the whole taxonomy will bask,
Subjected to eternal shine,
And all the vacuum of the past,
The hurried haste, the glut of spawn
So what are we to say?
Well, birds and butterflies and men
Form an economy of souls
At whom we laugh at our own peril;
And the winged hieroglyphs
Provide a puzzle which
Our whole life is too short to puzzle on.
So here we end, all tantalized
At the solution of the butterflies.