Nine Days by Nine
Upon the tree I hang nine days by nine;
I seek the truth that stays and outruns time,
I seek the high sublimity that overrules
The passing of the age, the wildest words
That overcome destruction and decay.
Upon the tree I hang beyond the years,
The pain upon my side and in my hands,
A hanged man on the gallows, swinging wide,
Caught up in bitter gales, swung side to side,
And on the tree of ages, forest-thick and dark,
The runes and riddles grow, unread by men,
The foundation-markings of the girded yards
That hold all things in heaven and on earth.
Upon the tree I hang nine days by nine,
Reading words in runes that, line by line,
Now step in endless march before my eyes,
Unveiling every secret, laying bare
The nature of the world that I with care
Unravel in the riddles with patience slow and wise
In writings rushing past, nine days by nine.
What is this I see, my God,
the presence all around me?
I lift my eyes to tangled thorns --
with bleat of ram and flash of horn
the gift has been provided;
a twilight ram, creation's cusp,
has grasped my hem in offering.
Satan caught him in the thorn,
the angel was his herald,
his hand is laid upon my hem
in gestures of creation.
I am not quite so clearly dead
that you can roll me over,
nor am I yet a mouldered corpse
to rest beneath the clover.
My name still echoes in the minds
of people far and distant;
my life was not a leaping splash,
the breath of but an instant,
but hope outreaching to the skies
with prayered hands and dusty:
I worked to build the bounded book
that is not yet grown musty.
And though it be a simple thing,
and not a godlike glory,
I am not circled by a tomb,
no headstone marks my story.