Ancestral Voices

In the old dark the late dark the still deep shadow

that had travelled silently along itself all night

while the small stars of spring were yet to be seen and the few

lamps burned by themselves with no expectations

far down through the valley then suddenly the voice

of the blackbird came believing in the habit

of the light until the torn shadows of the ridges

that had gone out one behind the other into the darkness

began appearing again still asleep surfacing in their

dream and the stars all at once were gone and instead the song

of the blackbird flashed through the unlit boughs and far

out in the oaks a nightingale went on echoing

itself drawing out its own invisible starlight

these voices were lifted here long long before the first

of our kind had come to be able to listen

and with the faint light in the dew of the infant

leaves the goldfinches flew out from their nest in the brambles

they had chosen all their colors for this day and they sang

of themselves which was what they had wakened to remember

~ W.S. Merwin, from The Vixen

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