new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

The Bubble Fountain

Children and sparrows, drinking here in twilight from the bubble fountain,
Toss of fawn wings, and smooth of limbs beneath the cotton garments flying;
Children and sparrows, mingling with white laughter of the bubble fountain
The small-throat shrill tintabulation of their windy crying.

Birds like blown leaves in dusty streets, and children bent like sapling trees,
Thin olive trees, too wild, too fresh in freedom to be bound of root,
Greet life with fluttering hands and hair, with little cries like sparrow-cries,
And hard young breasts that rise like buds against the trunk’s slim creamy shoot.

The two-a-farthing sparrows race, the children shake their lissome hair
Into the flowery fountain hair, and wet their lips with fountain lips;
And both are like the thoughts of dusk, the brittle thoughts that cross her face,
And smile across the market-square to sailormen come home from ships.

With these the smallest copper coin, the farthing-bits, the oboii,
Children and birds in fountain-spray, I shall go forth and buy the tree,
The magic sprung from beany-seed, the rainbow towering over lanes —
Or save and lay them on my eyes, when Charon ferries close for me.


Last updated 21 September, 2003