Ancestral

The star dissolved in evening—the one star
The silently
                   and night O soon now, soon
And still the light now
                                    and still now the large
Relinquishing
                     and through the pools of blue
Still, still the swallows
                                       and a wind now
                                                            and the tree
Gathering darkness:
                              I was small. I lay
Beside my mother on the grass, and sleep
Came—

          slow hooves and dripping with the dark
The velvet muzzles, the white feet that move
In a dream water
                        and O soon now soon
Sleep and the night.

                              And I was not afraid.
Her hand lay over mine. Her fingers knew
Darkness,—and sleep—the silent lands, the far
Far off of morning where I should awake.

Archibald MacLeish, “Ancestral” from Collected Poems 1917-1982. Copyright © 1985 by The Estate of Archibald MacLeish. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Source: Collected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1952)
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