Saturday, February 16, 2013

Janet Loxley Lewis: "The Wonder of the World"

(for a choral piece by Alva Henderson, Autumn, 1979)

From the old stone
The carven words reproach me,
Beside the rows of quiet dead:

The wonder of the world,
The beauty and the power,
The shapes of things,
Their colors, lights and shades,
These I saw.
Look ye also
While life lasts.

Earth, air and upper air,
Earth, air and water I knew,
And the sun on my face.
The voices of women and men,
The shouting of children,
These I knew.
Harken ye, also.
Drink while life lasts
The wine of astonishment.

So spoke the stone.

[Poet's note:] The seven lines of the second stanza are taken from an
old Swedish gravestone, and are quoted by Olaus J.
Murie of Moose, Wyoming.

"The Wonder of the World" by Janet Lewis, from Poems Old and New 1918-1978. © Ohio University Press, 1981.

Photograph: Unknown (originally color).



  1. Oooooh my..this is awesome. There really IS something more to gravestones than just a monument of a death.

  2. The description of the source made me curious about who Olaus Murie was so I went looking and discovered he was a preeminent wildlife biologist who helped protect habitat through the formation of national parks and much more Poetry takes me to so many places; this is a beautiful poem on its own, with a sidebar of learning thanks to its origins.


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