Three Friends

- 1894-1972

You on the bed beside me hold
One arm straight up till it is cold,
Then let it fall, the softest part
Lying for warmth against my heart. 
My fingers with your fingers’ ends
Play in and out; a foot defends 
Deep regions from another foot. 
You turn and find my eyes.  I put
A curious palm where it is seized
By a quick hand—but you are pleased. . . . 
There is a third one in the room. 
See—in the sun, where the figures bloom
Blood-red on the rug—somebody kneels? 
Time smiles at us, and rests his heels. 
Outside a hundred horses graze. 
He will drive on; but now he stays. 
Soon I must follow hence, and slip
Into my place beneath the whip. . . . 
He smiles upon us.  Come, forget!
He has not thought of rising yet. 

More by Mark Van Doren

The Hills of Little Cornwall

The hills of little Cornwall
Themselves are dreams.
The mind lies down among them,
Even by day, and snores,
Snug in the perilous knowledge
That nothing more inward pleasing,
More like itself,
Sleeps anywhere beyond them
Even by night
In the great land it cares two pins about,
Possibly; not more.

The mind, eager for caresses,
Lies down at its own risk in Cornwall;
Whose hills,
Whose cunning streams,
Whose mazes where a thought,
Doubling upon itself,
Considers the way, lazily, well lost,
Indulge it to the nick of death--
Not quite, for where it curls it still can feel,
Like feathers,
Like affectionate mouse whiskers,
The flattery, the trap.

Spring Thunder

Listen. The wind is still,
And far away in the night—
See!  The uplands fill 
With a running light. 

Open the doors.  It is warm;
And where the sky was clear —
Look!  The head of a storm
That marches here!

Come under the trembling hedge—
Fast, although you fumble. . . . 
There!  Did you hear the edge
Of winter crumble?

Travelling Storm

The sky, above us here, is open again. 
The sun comes hotter, and the shingles steam. 
The trees are done with dripping, and the hens
Bustle among bright pools to pick and drink. . . . 
But east and south are black with speeding storm. 
That thunder, low and far, remembering nothing,
Gathers a new world under it and growls, 
Worries, strikes, and is gone.  Children at windows 
Cry at the rain, it pours so heavily down,
Drifting across the yard till the sheds are grey. . . . 
A county father on, the wind is all—
A swift dark wind that turns the maples pale, 
Ruffles the hay, and spreads the swallows’ wings. 
Horses, suddenly restless, are unhitched,
And men, with glances upward, hurry in; 
Their overalls blow full and cool; they shout;
Soon they will lie in barns and laugh at the lightning. . . . 
Another county yet, and the sky is still; 
The air is fainting; women sit with fans
And wonder when a rain will come that way.