Upon the burning mountain stands the palm.
Deeper was its grove than the heart’s night,
And hung with green the spring rose under it.
Hidden in miles of leaves stood the great palm,
That column of a thousand years.
Too sharp, too bright
burned this winter’s sun. The wind’s fine fever
withered and pierced. O, time that brings us harm
undoes our knowledge, dries our sap and love:
upon the burning mountain burns the palm
within the burning grove.
‘I am that which is not able to be whole’,
says the fire: ‘and therefore I devour,
seeking the absolute I do not find.
This strength that falls to ash within the palm
grew through a million days, is eaten in an hour-
and in its death I die.’ All the faint voices
within the fire-voice whimper, Death: the small
flames murmur and are gone. ‘I am that word
that, emptied by the nightfall, inward turned,
you from youth depths have heard.’
‘I am that which is unbuilt but to renew’,
says the palm. ‘I was time’s living scale,
and that alone in me is given to fire.
Also, I scaled time; here upon his crest
I toss my fronds of flame. It is the eaten shell
only that vanishes, fibre and leaf that fall.
I am the Thing, thought’s crystal residue.
Worm and flame at my heart in their fierce love
touch me not, nor know me. I burn alone
within the burning grove.’