In the Fog

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I stared into the valley: it was gone— 
wholly submerged! A vast flat sea remained, 
gray, with no waves, no beaches; all was one. 

And here and there I noticed, when I strained, 
the alien clamoring of small, wild voices: 
birds that had lost their way in that vain land. 

And high above, the skeletons of beeches, 
as if suspended, and the reveries 
of ruins and of the hermit’s hidden reaches. 

And a dog yelped and yelped, as if in fear, 
I knew not where nor why. Perhaps he heard 
strange footsteps, neither far away nor near— 

echoing footsteps, neither slow nor quick, 
alternating, eternal. Down I stared, 
but I saw nothing, no one, looking back. 

The reveries of ruins asked: “Will no 
one come?” The skeletons of trees inquired: 
“And who are you, forever on the go?” 

I may have seen a shadow then, an errant 
shadow, bearing a bundle on its head. 
I saw—and no more saw, in the same instant. 

All I could hear were the uneasy screeches 
of the lost birds, the yelping of the stray, 
and, on that sea that lacked both waves and beaches, 

the footsteps, neither near nor far away.

© Plato