Reproach to Dead Poets

by Archibald MacLeish

Archibald MacLeish

You who have spoken words in the earth,
You have broken the silence,
Sayers in all lands to all peoples,
Writers in candel soot on the skins
Of rams for those who come after you,
Echoed at night in the arched doors,
And at noon in the shadow of fig trees,
Hear me!
Were there not
Were there not words to tell with?
Were there not leaf sounds in the mouths
Of women from over-sea, and a call
Of birds on the lips of the children of strangers?
Were there not words in all languages——
In many tongues the same thing differently,
The name cried out, Thalassa! the sea!
The Sea!
The sun and moon character representing
Brightness, the night sound of the wind for
Always, for ever and ever, the verb
Created after the speech of crickets——
Were there not words to tell with?
——to tell
What lands these are:
What are these
Lights though the night leaves and these voices
Crying among us as winds rise,

Or whence, of what race we are that dwell with them?
Were there not words to tell with,
you that have told
The kings' names and the hills remembered for battles?

New Found Land (1930)

Last updated December 27, 2014