Fiddler’s Croft

We stood in silence in his croft,
as he swayed upon a three-legg'd stool,
in the whiskey-hues of hearth-light
and from his fiddle tore an air,
so low and wistful and so lost,
as to deepen every down-turned eye
and stir the sorrows in the rain.

And Old Nan mumbling on her bench,
who once could blow on knots and sink a ship,
or make a hermit fall in love,
cracked a vacant ruined grin,
unlocked the silver in her throat
and sang the moonlight on a river.

And we the gathered island dead,
all crammed together in the flicker
among the rafters and the drying fish,
between the sacks and well-worn tools,
did not move or moan or give a cry,
to see how song can make a world
from the trash of memory that remains.

Now with the fading of the night,
we're gone like frost-thorns from the pane
and Nan and John are left alone.

In truth there is no heaven yet above,
but hours like these are living things
that minister softly to our needs:
for we ourselves are unheard songs,
that lying out here in the dark,
await the singer who will come
and sing us on his golden tongue.