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Narcissus ...

 

Narcissus, who was never very wise,

Observed a water-spirit in a pond

And grew enamored of the comely blonde

Who matched his gaze and filled his shallow eyes.

 

Through all the dawns, it never dawned on him

Why such a face would shatter at a tear

And flee his touch or why the pond's veneer

Would duplicate an overhanging limb.

 

The spirits featured in the face of waves,

The lips of fountains or the fountainhead

Are images of us in nature's stead,

Reflecting on the way the world behaves,

 

And as the spring of youth matures tomorrow

To Old Man Winter and old age, we look

And look and ask the figure in the brook,

As long ago Narcissus did, "Who are you?"

 

 

... And Echo

 

Echo, who tricked a Queen with her replies,

Received a sentence only to respond

And gradually became a vagabond,

A voice, unable to extemporize.

 

Seeing Narcissus at the water's brim,

She fell in love, but when he said, "Come here,"

The timbre of the forest said, "Come, hear,"

And she became the selfless eponym

 

For words we put into the mouths of caves,

The teeth of canyons and the woodenhead

Ravines.  Though nature's ministries seem led

By honest voices in the open naves,

 

Divine and inspirational and true,

The words resounding from an overlook

Are only ours, as once beside a brook,

Narcissus heard from Echo, "Who are you?"

 

Greg Williamson

 

 

From The Silent Partner, Story Line Press,

1994.  Reprinted by permission of the author
and Story Line Press, Ashland, Oregon.

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