Many in the Darkness

November 1941

We sat in the park, but there was a war between us,
A dead moon over us and all around us
The shy and secret whisperings as of the tiny
Woods animals which in the high forest gather
Wind-fallen goods before the frost comes.

      We praised as lucky all whose sure existence
      (As of the careless moon, the dutiless squirrels)
      Is not responsible for human history—
      Feeling how our happiness, how hope must mount
      Machine guns which other men yet have the firing of,
      How liberty is seen in the form of a fighter plane
      Millions look up asking, Is it ours?

Our despair was temporary but not less painful.
Over us the moon was quiet about its business,
Pouring its constant light upon the naked beaches.
The squirrels built up their small defenses
Obliged to the fulfillment of a natural process.
Their leaf-lined cell, the brilliance of the moon,
The winter cannot touch and no touch tarnish.

Thomas McGrath, “Many in the Darkness” from The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems, published by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems (Swallow Press, 1972)
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