Mountain Dulcimer

By Robert Morgan Robert Morgan
Where does such sadness in wood come
from? How could longing live in these
wires? The box looks like the most fragile
coffin tuned for sound. And laid
across the knees of this woman
it looks less like a baby nursed
than some symbolic Pietà,
and the stretched body on her lap
yields modalities of lament
and blood, yields sacrifice and sliding
chants of grief that dance and dance toward
a new measure, a new threshold,
a new instant and new year which
we always celebrate by
remembering the old and by
recalling the lost and honoring
those no longer here to strike these
strings like secrets of the most
satisfying harmonies, as
voices join in sadness and joy
and tell again what we already
know, have always known but forget,
from way back in the farthest cove,
from highest on the peaks of love.

Source: Poetry (March 1999).


This poem originally appeared in the March 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

March 1999
 Robert  Morgan


Robert Morgan grew up in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at both Chapel Hill and Greensboro, where he studied with the poet Fred Chappell. After working as a salesman, house-painter, and farmer, he joined the faculty of Cornell University where he teaches English and creative writing.

Although some consider Morgan an Appalachian regional writer (a title he . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Music, Living, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Alliteration, Imagery, Free Verse, Simile, Elegy, Metaphor

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