THIRD HYPOTHESIS ON THE DEATH OF EMPEDOCLES

        (After Jean Joubert)

A little before night
a voice arose within the orchard
calling him by his name.
He had had supper alone beneath his lamp,
had cleared the bread, the wine,
and tasted the deep stillness and its peace.
His cat was sleeping at the embers
and the slow fire was banked.
It was then that the voice
rose up amongst the boughs,
suddenly,
and quite clear, and still,
calling upon his name
again, and yet again,
so clear,
and saying nothing but his name,
that he unlatched the door
and stepped across the garden with its figs
to the insistent dark.
Nothing had happened there
or changed, but dusk,
except perhaps that now the thirsty earth
soaked up the pure, translucent light.
Upon the water’s edge,
voiceless and still,
creatures were waiting for him,
calm, and imperturbable.
Smiling, he passed within the dark
and shadow of the moon,
never to speak,
not to be seen again.

 

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