Like a sound of sheep bells
Beyond the bend in the road
My thoughts are content.
My only regret is that I know they’re content,
Since if I didn’t know this,
They would be content and happy
Instead of sadly content.
Thinking is a discomfort, like walking in the rain
When the wind kicks up and it seems to rain harder.
I have no ambitions and no desires.
To be a poet is not my ambition,
It’s my way of being alone.
And if sometimes, in my imagination,
I desire to be a small lamb
(Or to be the whole flock
So that I can roam all over the hillside
As many happy things at the same time),
It’s only because I feel what I write when the sun sets
Or when a cloud passes its hand over the light
And a silence sweeps through the grass.
When I sit down to write verses
Or I walk along roads and pathways
Jotting verses on a piece of paper in my mind,
I feel a staff in my hand
And see my own profile
On top of a low hill
Looking after my flock and seeing my ideas,
Or looking after my ideas and seeing my flock,
And smiling vaguely, like one who doesn’t grasp what was said
But pretends he did.
I salute all who may read me,
Tipping my wide-brimmed hat
As soon as the coach tops the hill
And they see me at my door.
I salute them and wish them sunshine,
Or rain, if rain is needed,
And a favorite chair where they sit
At home, reading my poems
Next to an open window.
And as they read my poems, I hope
They think I’m something natural—
That old tree, for instance,
In whose shade when they were children
They sat down with a thud, tired of playing,
And wiped the sweat from their hot foreheads
With the sleeve of their striped smocks.
8 March, 1914
Translation copyright 2022 Richard Zenith. Introduction copyright 1998 Richard Zenith. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic Inc. All rights reserved.