The Traveller

written by

« Reload image

To Archibald MacLeish

The afternoon with heavy hours
Lies vacant on the wanderer's sight
And sunset waits whose cloudy towers
Expect the legions of the night

Till sullen thunder from the cave
Of twilight with deliberate swell
Whispers the air his darkening slave
To loose the nether bolts of hell

To crush the battlements of cloud
The wall of light around the West
So that the swarming dark will crowd
The traveller upon his quest

And all the air with heavy hours
Sinks on the wanderer's dull sight
And the thick dark whose hidden towers
Menace his travel to the night

Rolls forward, backward hill to hill
Until the seeker knows not where
Beyond the shade of Peachers' Mill
In the burnt meadow, with colourless hair

The secret ones around a stone
Their lips withdrawn in meet surprise
Lie still, being naught but bone
With naught but space within their eyes

Until bewildered by the road
And half-forgetful of his quest
The wanderer with such a load
Of breathing, being too late a guest

Turns back, so near the secret stone,
Falls down breathless at last and blind,
And a dark shift within the bone
Brings him the end he could not find.

© Allen Tate