The Song of the Trolleys

by W. S. Merwin

William Stanley Merwin

It was one of the carols
of summer and I knew that
even when all the leaves
were falling through it as it passed
and when frost crusted the tracks
as soon as they had stopped ringing
summer stayed on in that song
going again the whole way
out of sight to the river
under the hill and the hissing
when it had to stop
the humming to itself
while it waited until
it could start again
out of an echo warning
once more with a clang of its bell.
I could hear it coming
from far summers that I
had never known
long before I could see it
swinging its head
to its own tune on its way
and hardly arrived before it
was going and its singing
receding with its growing
smaller until it was gone
into sounds that resounded
only when they have come to silence
the voices of morning stars
and the notes that once rose
out of the throats of women
from cold mountain villages
at the fringe of the forest
calling over the melting
snow to the spirits asleep
in the green heart of the woods
Wake now it is time again

Last updated March 02, 2023