I heard them singing in the shadow of sand
how years grow brittle as bread between our fingers,
and the immeasurable miles our garland.
They spoke to the lute with their five-tongued hands,
and I believed the singers.
First March ran over the lawns in gold and silver;
and the wheel shook, and it was May; then
every hour danced on a dulcimer
in citadels of air. After summer
came the thunder of wrath of men,
and days were poison into a clear glass,
coiling from the sky; love was power and terror.
And the heart knew them, tightened like a windlass,
dredging the horrible from unseen places
behind cloaks and mirrors.
Bent as a face watched in a water-bubble,
the sick year stood round us wearing ghosts;
the ghosts called our thought in the voice of the bell:
could we remember March and not tremble?
the singers, undistressed?
I hear them singing, now in flame's shadow,
singing oh lies, lies: now they say
all is forgotten, was very long ago,
the garland was bright ashes, the bread mildew;
and all, faded away.