Michael Palmer

The Classical Study

I asked the Master of Shadows
wherefore and wherefrom

but he said that art was short
and life was long.

Said: let us praise
those flames that consume the day

stone by stone
and the lilac by the barn

and the hours when you were young
and the mother- and the father-tongue.

Curled by fire the leaves of grass
buckled, the roof beam,

shattered, the wagon’s haft,
ash-flecks in the wind’s swell.

Have you forgotten the whistling of the stones,
the heave and shift of the windrows?

So I asked the Master of Shadows
about the above and the below,

the this and the that,
the first and the last,

but he said,
I am no master

only a shadow,
and he laughed.