THE LAND UNCHANGED, the cattle track,
Narrow for two split hooves to meet,
Winds to walnut grove and back
As when I walked it with bare feet,
Horses with no different eye—
Brown water flowing over stone—
Watch white-maned north wind running by,
Or corn from fields that they had sown.
New mood in older things must be
An inner change, mind’s bone grown longer,
Nerves less blind, more quick to see,
Blood’s cry for air turned stronger.
A man’s age like returning rain
Mingles with flesh it knew when younger,
Raising for him that bitter grain,
Remembered things, which ease no hunger.
Through that rain beating on my face
I see the huddled shape of days
That wandered with me in this place,
But lost their old and friendly ways.
Can I hills, horses understand,
And not past self? Yet here, I know
That one tense mind, one troubled hand,
Make present self forever go,
As frozen pond, the end of food,
Drives the southward duck to flying.
Though I return in autumn wood
I can find nothing but its crying.