Variations on an Elizabethan Theme

A poem by Edgar Bowers

Long days, short nights, this Southern summer
Fixes the mind within its timeless place.
Athwart pale limbs the brazen hummer
Hangs and is gone, warm sound its quickened space.

Butterfly weed and cardinal flower,
Orange and red, with indigo the band,
Perfect themselves unto the hour.
And blood suffused within the sunlit hand,

Within the glistening eye the dew,
Are slow with their slow moving. Watch their passing,
As lightly the shade covers you:
All colors and all shapes enrich its massing.

Once I endured such gentle season.
Blood-root, trillium, sweet flag, and swamp aster—
In their mild urgency, the reason
Knew each and kept each chosen from disaster.

Now even dusk destroys; the bright
Leucothoë dissolves before the eyes
And poised upon the reach of light
Leaves only what no reasoning dare surmise.

Dim isolation holds the sense
Of being, intimate as breathing; around,
Voices, unmeasured and intense,
Throb with the heart below the edge of sound.

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