The Animals

By Josephine Jacobsen 1908–2003 Josephine Jacobsen
At night, alone, the animals came and shone.
The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals:   
The lion the man the calf the eagle saying   
Sanctus which was and is and is to come.

The sleeper watched the people at the waterless wilderness’ edge;   
The wilderness was made of granite, of thorn, of death,   
It was the goat which lightened the people praying.
The goat went out with sin on its sunken head.

On the sleeper’s midnight and the smaller after hours   
From above below elsewhere there shone the animals   
Through the circular dark; the cock appeared in light   
Crying three times, for tears for tears for tears.

High in the frozen tree the sparrow sat. At three o’clock   
The luminous thunder of its fall fractured the earth.   
The somber serpent looped its coils to write
In scales the slow snake-music of the red ripe globe.

To the sleeper, alone, the animals came and shone,   
The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals.   
Just before dawn the dove flew out of the dark
Flying with green in her beak; the dove also had come.

Josephine Jacobsen, “The Animals” from In the Crevice of Time: New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Josephine Jacobsen. Reproduced with the permission of The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Source: In the Crevice of Time: New and Selected Poems (1995)

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Poet Josephine Jacobsen 1908–2003

Subjects Religion, Relationships, Pets, Living, Christianity

Poetic Terms Allusion, Rhymed Stanza

 Josephine  Jacobsen

Biography

Throughout Josephine Jacobsen's career, she has written poetry, short fiction, and literary criticism. While she has received considerable acclaim for her fiction, she believes that nothing compares to poetry. Her poetry takes many forms, ranging from traditional structures to free verse, and it centers on the mysteries of being human and the relationships between the physical and the spiritual realms. An example is "The Edge" . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Relationships, Pets, Living, Christianity

Poetic Terms Allusion, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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