The Forge of the Solstice

The best are older: with the unrest time brings,
No absolute remains to bind them fast.
One scrawls on rock the names of hallowed things,
Letters and hieroglyphs that yet shall last
When darkness measures with a martyr’s eye
The glories shed by life’s unchanging tree.

Another, curbing vigour on his page
To movement, makes the abounding life his own
And rhythmic finds in a discordant age,
Singing from living fountains sprung from stone,
Those unifying harmonies of line
Torn from creative nature. Light is born

Under believing fingers. Men refute
By inward protest what their masters teach,
Seeking a deeper meaning. One is mute,
Fearing far more the heresies of speech
Than watchful waiting. Figures move, they pass
Across the cave. Before them flies heaven’s glass,

And out of it now falls the winter sun,
Leaving a ceaseless myth of moving waves,
Till darkness quiets all things. Man is one:
The identity survives its many graves.
First was the hunter, then the prophet; last,
The artificer, compounding in one ghost

Hunter and prey, prophet and witness, brought
Into that circle where all riddles end.
Love gives their art a body in which thought
Draws, not from time but wisdom, till it bend
The solstice like a bow, and bring time round
White with young stars, quick from the forge they have found.

Vernon Watkins (1959)


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