back to home
(madison icon)1902


by Zona Gale
from Madison, Past and Present   1902


This is the sunless river
   Whose births of foam and gold
Are drunk by huddling shadows
   That loom across the wold.
Here, with pale marsh-things meeting
There is no sound of greeting,
Nor any dead heart beating
   Beneath the flowerless mould.

I came from out a haven
   Where silver lilies grow,
And all the day is breathless
   For words it does not know.
One dusk I heard the luting
Of fairy trumpets, fluting
Sweet through the night-owl's hooting
   And thrilling me to go.

Swift in the kissing twilight
   I dipped and drifted down
Past dim; bird-haunted pastures
   And past the red-lamped town.
For no winged wraith might stay me,
No siren-town betray me,
Nor night itself gainsay me,
   Who sought the nameless crown.

Lo, where the river widened
   And found the sounding sea
Blown reeds and rushes vanished
   And were not friends to me.
And I was left lone-drifting,
With all the world grim-shifting,
And never night-cloud lifting
   From that which was to be.

Oh, pallid closed the gleaming,
   Dim green and gray. The white
Of sunken silver lilies
   Is in the air like light.
Pallid the land is lying;
"Thank God," my soul is crying,
"Though all the world be dying
   I found the flute that night!"

Gale, Zona. "Psalm." Madison, Past and Present. [Madison: State Journal Printing Co., 1902] 16.
Held by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin: F589 M1 M32 (Oversize).