Posts Tagged ‘Anne Morrow Lindbergh’

Here sits the Unicorn 
In captivity; 
His bright invulnerability 
Captive at last; 
The chase long past, 
Winded and spent, 
By the king’s spears rent; 
Collared and tied 
To a pomengranate tree-  
Here sits the Unicorn 
In captivity, 
Yet free. 

Here sits the Unicorn; 
His overtakelessness 
Bound by a circle small 
As a maid’s embrace; 
Ringed by a round corral; 
Pinioned in place 
By a fence of scarlet rail, 
Fragile as a king’s crown, 
Delicately laid down 
Over horn, hoofs, and tail, 
As a butterfly net 
Is lightly set. 

He could leap the corral, 
If he rose 
To his full white height; 
He could splinter the fencing light, 
With three blows 
Of his porcelain hoofs in flight-  
If he chose. 
He could shatter his prison wall, 
Could escape them all-  
If he rose, 
If he chose. 

Here sits the Unicorn; 
The wounds in his side 
Still bleed 
From the huntsmen’s spears, 
Yet he takes no heed 
Of the blood-red tears 
On his milk-white hide, 
That spring unsealed, 
Like flowers that rise 
From the velvet field 
In which he lies. 
Dream wounds, dream ties 
Do not bind him there 
In a kingdom where 
He is unaware 
Of his wounds, of his snare. 

Here sits the Unicorn; 
Head in a collar cased, 
Like a girdle laced 
Round a maiden’s waist, 
Broidered and buckled wide, 
Carelessly tied. 
He could slip his head 
From the jewelled noose 
So lightly tied –  
If he tried, 
As a maid could loose 
The belt from her side; 
He could slip the bond 
So lightly tied –  
If he tried. 

Here sits the Unicorn; 
Leashed by a chain of gold 
To the pomengranate tree. 
So light a chain to hold 
So fierce a beast; 
Delicate as a cross at rest 
On a maiden’s breast. 
He could snap the golden chain 
With one toss of his mane, 
If he chose to move, 
If he chose to prove 
His liberty. 
But he does not choose 
What choice would lose. 
He stays, the Unicorn, 
In captivity. 

In captivity, 
Flank, hoofs, and mane –  
Yet look again –  
His horn is free, 
Rising above Chain, fence, and tree, 
Free hymn of love; His horn 
Bursts from his tranquil brow 
Like a comet born; 
Cleaves like a galley’s prow 
Into seas untorn; 
Springs like a lily, white 
From the Earth below; 
Spirals, a bird in flight 
To a longed-for height; 
Or a fountain bright, 
Spurting to light 
Of early morn –  
O luminous horn! 

Here sits the Unicorn –  
In captivity? 
In repose. 
Forgotten now the blows 
When the huntsmen rose 
With their spears; dread sounds 
Of the baying hounds, 
With their cry for blood; 
And the answering flood 
In his veins for strife, 
Of his rage for life, 
In hoofs that plunged, 
In horn that lunged. 
Forgotten the strife; 
Now the need to kill 
Has died like fire, 
And the need to love 
Has replaced desire; 
Forgotten now the pain 
Of the wounds, tthe fence, the chain –  
Where he sits so still, 
Where he waits Thy will. 

Quiet, the Unicorn, 
In contemplation stilled, 
With acceptance filled; 
Quiet, save for his horn; 
Alive in his horn; 
In captivity; 
As prisoners might, 
Looking on high at night, 
From day-close discipline 
Of walls and bars, 
To night-free infinity 
Of sky and stars, 
Find here felicity: 
So is he free –  
The Unicorn. 
What is liberty? 
Here lives the Unicorn, 
In captivity, 

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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“It swings forever to the absolute
crying out beauty like a silver flute.”

~  From “Broken Shell”

“Here sits the Unicorn,
leashed by a chain of gold
to the pomegranate tree.
So light a chain to hold
so fierce a beast,
delicate as a cross at rest
on a maiden’s breast.”

~  From “The Unicorn in Captivity”

“There is no harvest for the heart alone:
the seed of love must be

~ From “Second Sowing”

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Interior Tree

Burning tree upon the hill
and burning tree within my heart,
what kinship stands between the two,
what cord I cannot tear apart?

The passionate gust that sets one free,
– a flock of leaves in sudden flight –
shatters the bright interior tree
into a shower of splintered light.

Fused moments of felicity,
when flame and I and heart unite,
come they from earth, or can they be
the swallows of eternity?

Within the Wave

Within the hollow wave there lies a world,
gleaming glass-perfect, rising to be hurled
into a thousand fragments on the sand,
driven by tide’s inexorable hand.
Now in the instant while disaster towers,
I glimpse the land more beautiful than ours,
another sky, more lapis-lazuli,
lit by unsetting suns, another sea
by no horizon bound, another shore,
glistening with shells I never saw before.
Smooth mirror of the present, poised between
the crest’s “becoming” and the foam’s “has-been” –
how luminous the landscape seen across
the crystal lens of an impending loss!

Bare Tree

Already I have shed the leaves of youth,
stripped by the wind of time down to the truth
of winter branches. Linear and alone
I stand, a lens for lives beyond my own,
a frame through which another’s fire may glow,
a harp on which another’s passion, blow.

The pattern of my boughs, an open chart
spread on the sky, to others may impart
its leafless mysteries that I once prized,
before bare roots and branches equalized,
tendrils that tap the rain or twigs the sun
are all the same, shadow and substance one.
Now that my vulnerable leaves are cast aside,
there’s nothing left to shield, nothing to hide.

Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
so fragile and so fearless have I grown!

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
from The Unicorn and Other Poems


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