from The Luthier

He Plays


Bird-throated, Sweet of tongue
I knew, I knew!
Clear on the night
Each note sings pure, sings true.
Ah, tender, young!
When years have mellowed you
Remember, and with beauty and with power
Evoke this hour –
Pine, fern, and dreaming flower.
And summon back,
For memories abide,
The lemon-tree,
The workshop door flung wide,
The bees, the sun-lit bench,
And one inside
Reaching, a joyous ghost,
For gouge or plane …
Cry home the children
And the birds again
And conjure from the dust where they have lain
The brittle glue,
The black and bubbling pot,
And in that world
Where time and loss are not
Let wood lie soaking,
Let an Iron be hot …
And when, to these same tree,
Familiar, strong,
I come at last
(O Noght, be deep, be long)
To lift my bow
In final Evensong
May other hands hold you as lovingly …
Music, and silence;
So, then, let it be.
But now, Sweet-tongued, Bird-throated,
Sing for me!

from The Luthier: poems (Reed, 1966), © Ruth Gilbert 1966, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974

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