Magazine | May 1, 2017, Issue

Poetry

Fog covers the Inntal valley as the sunrise is seen from the Hundskopf mountain in the western Austrian village of Gnadenwald, Austria. (Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters)

WHAT CAME BEFORE

When the mists of antiquity roll down the

mountain with what came before written history,

before the celestial irresolution of dark and light,

when persistent survival was a near miracle,

at the time when forms of worship came to be

for the earth goddess, where dreams and

the tangible world were all of the same cloth,

where distinctions, the words of separation,

had not yet found their way, every conversation

held an implicit understanding, holy-man magic, in the

same word, a light of different meanings, where all who

lived were of the same constellation, and understood.

There was, of place, a lyrical beauty to life,

and to language, as of worship, even with

an over-the-hill terror of unknown, armed men,

and nightmares with beasts no one had ever seen;

the irresolution of dark and light, thought of

together as good and evil, the torn clouds

of the heavens and the heart, the living mist,

the motion of life and the mind, the forms

of twilight and also of peace, where the law that

shall come to be, and the love by which it must

live and die, come as one down the mountain,

gentle and silent, enveloping priest and scribe.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

More Food, Fewer Farmers Robert D. Atkinson’s piece “In Defense of Robots” (April 17) made me reflect on the great impact that advances in technology have had on my own ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ It takes a special talent to come off as the bad guy in a conversation about Bashar al-Assad and Adolf Hitler. ‐ Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s national-security adviser, admits, after ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

WHAT CAME BEFORE When the mists of antiquity roll down the mountain with what came before written history, before the celestial irresolution of dark and light, when persistent survival was a near miracle, at the ...

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