Muir Holburn - Selected Poems

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This country is noted for its abysses,

Some panoramic, and meant for Kodaks,

And not easily stumbled over.


Others are small, covered with rotten leaves,

Deceiving even the horse’s deftness –

Behind the innocent rising ground

Or between pines. Many the unwary –

with whom no further communication is possible.


But I must carry in my rucksack

Many private abysses, and all

Infinitely treacherous – as, for instance,

when you stand not a foot away.

Beautiful of spirit and of untrammelled flesh

That the beneficient winds and suns

      have smoothed and cuddled

Into such unbearable excellence. –

Oppressive with loveliness this afternoon –


O then the abyss is very close indeed –

    and the valley beneath

Canaan - fruitful. O I must be careful lest

The self destruction seem golden as the martyr’s bed

    of flames –


But, did I fall, how certainly I’d know

There would be no further comnunication between us –

And even the dry biscuits of our casual chatter

Are the nearest I have known to sustenance.







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