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Collected Poems

The Runner

The Runner

I have heard soft lutes
sob their ecstasies,
and the thrush's notes
tumble from the rain-wet trees.

I have heard the ocean's song
rise like a flame
with cold blue tongue
from the swirling foam,

and from the sky far whispers,
not tunes, not words,
the dim, mournful vespers
of homing birds.

page 185

Sea-chime, and fluting bird,
and tune from smitten strings,
all these are lovely, but I have heard
more lovely things:

There are songs that beat
and throb along the blood
when our flying feet
on the greensward thud,

and pipes that shrill
as with labouring step
we clamber up the hill,
pause, and then dip

down through the sweet
grass-scented air
with flying feet
and flying hair…

Lovely are the birds, and the sobbing
of lutes, but braver far
is the voiceless music throbbing
in the runner's ear.