Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
Driftwood Burning
By Zoë Akins
YOU who behold me,
You—the strangers,
The dwellers in the low lands
Here by the river—
Can you indeed        5
Behold me, burning,
Without wonder, without dreaming?
The great flames
Are taking me;
They are consuming me;        10
Even as you—
Dwellers in the low lands—
Are to return unto dust
In the end,
I, the driftwood burning,        15
Am going my way
To the nothingness
Of ashes in the wind.
Yet I go
Not slowly—not a slow fog        20
Creeping from one valley
To another—
But flamingly,
A light, a warmth, a signal,        25
Leaping out of the darkness!
Time found me
Before I was I—
Long ago, far away
In a deep forest;        30
And Time took me,
Rooting me up
From the ground that bore me—
Away from the circling arms
Of my brothers and sisters about me—        35
Time took me
And gave me,
Frightened and broken,
To the Great River.
My brothers and sisters        40
Of the forest
Where Time found me
Lamented perhaps
That I was broken
And sent to drift        45
On the unreturning waves
Of the unreturning river.
They have gone perhaps—
My brothers and sisters—
Into the building of ships        50
Ot the building of homes….
But it was my destiny
To drift, to burn….
Bronze are my flames,
And opal,        55
Like the breasts
Of the wild geese
In the bronze mirror;
And green are my flames
Like the young willow trees        60
That lean to the river
From thousands of islands
And from long low shores….
I burn
With all the beauty        65
That I have known
And have dreamed of
Under the quivering fountains
Of light flowing
From the radiant sun,        70
Or in the pale
Amethystine twilights
Of gathering snows….
And my flames
Ride upward into smoke        75
That they are akin
To the proudest elements
That gave the light to the stars,
The heat to the sun—        80
Akin, but more beautiful
With secrets and colors
That the stars and the sun
Have yet to learn.
And there is a gladness in me        85
That is like the gladness
Of dancers and birds,
For Eternity vexes me not
With the glories and duties
Perpetual        90
She has given
To the stars and the sun,
The lightning, the wind….
It was my destiny
To burn,        95
To be a light, a warmth, a signal
Here on your shore
By the Great River
That brought me down
And nursed me on her breast,        100
And whispered her secrets to me,
And gave me her colors,
And flung me to my fate….
Can you behold me
Burning—        105
O strangers,
Without wonder, without dreaming?

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