Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
I Do Not Know
By Mary Austin
From “High Places”

I DO not know if there is God,
The centre of this whirling orb
Making and unmaking.
I do not know if there is God—
But there’s a spirit in the wood.        5
That was it where once the lupin shook,
And there it laughed
Between two gurgles of the brook.
Warm silence and the windless stir
Along my sides where once was fur,        10
And nameless fierce temptations in my blood.
Or when the dawn is like a trumpet laid
To the sea’s lips that are curved keen for it,
When the wet beach is gleaming like a shell
And all the foreshore whispers in green fire,        15
I have felt that spirit pass,
Stalking the young winds in the grass.
I do not know if there is God—
But when my travail came,
And every sense went weltering blind        20
’Round jagged rocks of pain,
There is a Swimmer in the surf
Rode with us down the staggering gulf
And brought us safe to land.
The hurrying hearse whisked out of sight,        25
The sexton cleaned his spade on the grass,
(My grief was stiff like the slithering clay)
And the mourners put up their veils.
There was a Spirit blew
The graveyard dust in my face:        30
“‘Earth unto earth,’ was said of you,
For something of you has gone into the ground
With the child that you made at your body’s cost.
And a sea-blue lilac can not toss,
Nor the white corn tassel, row on row,        35
But something of you has entered there.
The brown corn-silk is the brown of her hair,
And the pink of her mouth you will find again
Delicately folded lip on lip,
In the budding tips of the apricot boughs.        40
For nothing can ever divide you now
From the earth you have made with your dead.”
That was a thing
Only a Spirit could have said.

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