Monday, January 3, 2011

Meditations on the Fall and Winter Holidays

by Charles Reznikoff

New Year's

The solid houses in the mist 
are thin as tissue paper; 
the water laps slowly at the rocks; 
and the ducks from the north are here 
at rest on the grey ripples. 

The company in which we went 
so free of care, so carelessly, 
has scattered. Good-bye, 
to you who lie behind in graves, 
to you who galloped proudly off! 
Pockets and heart are empty. 

This is the autumn and our harvest--
such as it is, such as it is--
the beginnings of the end, bare trees and barren ground; 
but for us only the beginning: 
let the wild goat's horn and the silver trumpet sound!

Reason upon reason 
to be thankful: 
for the fruit of the earth, 
for the fruit of the tree, 
for the light of the fire, 
and to have come to this season. 

The work of our hearts is dust 
to be blown about in the winds 
by the God of our dead in the dust 
but our Lord delighting in life 
(let the wild goat's horn 
and the silver trumpet sound!)
our God Who imprisons in coffin and grave 
and unbinds the bound. 

You have loved us greatly and given us 
Your laws 
for an inheritance, 
Your sabbaths, holidays, and seasons of gladness, 
distinguishing Israel 
from other nations--
distinguishing us 
above the shoals of men. 
And yet why should we be remembered--
if at all--only for peace, if grief 
is also for all? Our hopes, 
if they blossom, if they blossom at all, the petals 
and fruit fall. 

You have given us the strength 
to serve You, 
but we may serve or not 
as we please; 
not for peace nor for prosperity, 
not even for length of life, have we merited 
remembrance; remember us 
as the servants 
You have inherited. 
from: The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff. Copyright 1976.

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