Men make them fires on the hearth
Each under his roof-tree,
And the Four Winds that rule the earth
They blow the smoke to me.
Across the high hills and the sea
And all the changeful skies,
The Four Winds blow the smoke to me
Till the tears are in my eyes.
Until the tears are in my eyes
And my heart is well nigh broke
For thinking on old memories
That gather in the smoke.
With every shift of every wind
The homesick memories come,
From every quarter of mankind
Where I have made me a home.
Four times a fire against the cold
And a roof against the rain,
Sorrow fourfold and joy fourfold
The Four Winds bring again!
How can I answer which is best
Of all the fires that burn?
I have been too often host or guest
At every fire in turn.
How can I turn from any fire,
On any man’s hearthstone?
I know the wonder and desire
That went to build my own!
How can I doubt man’s joy or woe
Where’er his house-fires shine.
Since all that man must undergo
Will visit me at mine?
Oh, you Four Winds that blow so strong
And know that his is true,
Stoop for a little and carry my song
To all the men I knew!
Where there are fires against the cold,
Or roofs against the rain,
With love fourfold and joy fourfold,
Take them my songs again!
Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936.
Original photograph by Ivan Bandura.
Beyond a ridge of pine with russet tips
The west lifts to the sun her longing lips,
Her blushes stain with gold and garnet dye
The shore, the river and the wide far sky;
Like floods of wine the waters filter through
The reeds that brush our indolent canoe.
I beach the bow where sands in shadows lie;
You hold my hand a space, then speak good-bye.
Upwinds your pathway through the yellow plumes
Of goldenrod, profuse in August blooms,
And o’er its tossing sprays you toss a kiss;
A moment more, and I see only this –
The idle paddle you so lately held,
The empty bow your pliant wrist propelled,
Some thistles purpling into violet,
Their blossoms with a thousand thorns afret,
And like a cobweb, shadowy and grey,
Far floats their down – far drifts my dream away.
E. Pauline Johnson, 1861-1913.
Photograph by 3268auber.
Ashes denote that fire was;
Respect the grayest pile
For the departed creature’s sake
That hovered there awhile.
Fire exists the first in light,
And then consolidates, —
Only the chemist can disclose
Into what carbonates.
Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886.
As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells –
That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.
Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,
Both sing sometimes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
Yet both droop deadly sometimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.
Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest –
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,
But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.
Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bones risen.
Gerard Manly Hopkins, 1944-1889.
Photograph by Dorothea Lange, 1895-1965.
Go gather wood for your fires boys,
gather wood to burn | don’t pick wood that’s wet or rotten,
or it will not burn ::the cherry trees stand withered,
the orchards bare and dry | the grass parched and dying
by a scourge sent from the sky.
The leaves eaten by the sun,
the water line is clear | the lake is showing rooftops
of a town once disappeared ::it rains and rains for days on end,
so the fires burn out | the sun shines from the sky,
suddenly it’s a drought.
There’s flooding in the valley,
chaos in the hills | the roads washed out by the creek
that once ran deep and still | the river swollen to the banks,
the farmlands turned to swamp | the city center’s four feet deep
of a rage that just won’t stop.
The government is sending troops and sandbags by the score,
but the angry skies won’t listen, tomorrow—
another storm | the national guard stands ready
with its soldiers and their guns | but the thunder’s roll is louder,
the battle has begun.
Pablo Cuzco is an American writer of poetry and short stories. He spent his early years in France and Germany with his family. In his teens, he traveled across America with guitar in hand, writing songs and jotting memories along the way. Now, living in the Southwest with his wife, he has time to reflect and share those stories. His works can be found at Underfoot Poetry, The Big Windows Review, and on his blog Pablo Cuzco – in My Mind’s Eye.
I’ll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill’s crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May set them down and rest.
There shall be plates a-plenty,
And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
Who happen up the hill.
There sound will sleep the traveller,
And dream his journey’s end,
But I will rouse at midnight
The falling fire to tend.
Aye, ‘tis a curious fancy—
But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
A long time ago.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950.
At the Moulin Rouge: The Women Dancing by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1894.
It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.
But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.
Robert Frost, 1874-1963.