To the Plane


Sky-rider, sweeping your wings against
The cobweb cloud, asking the sun’s proximity,
You intimate of thunder,
What rich plunder
Do your instruments pluck from the skies?

Should we, groundlings in wonder, surmise
That in the empyrean there lies
Something beyond the mortal
That your mystical eyes
Can make unfold like a petal?

Wind-racer, cloud-chaser, nowhere
In the illimitable air
Do you not aspire.

But it’s of no avail
If the human spirit should fail
And find itself more
Than your wings frail.

Looking upon you, loud
Cloud-cleaver, cumulus-kisser, land-spurner,
What are we to think of you
Not moving like a soft schooner
But alone and self-possessed
Singing like a wasp in the blue?

Are we to believe
Your wide-silvered wings more wonderful
Than we who built them knew?

You liberated, lift in effortless control
To set a compass course through dip and tilt,
Singing your own hymn to the world’s rim
– Yet only on our hope built.

Storied cities lie under a far hill,
Continents map-like unroll,
And the great circle curves
Over oceans where the dark whale moves.

from Enter Without Knocking (Enlarged edition, Pegasus Press, 1971), © Denis Glover 1971, used by permission of the Denis Glover Literary Estate. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974.

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