From an Island

(2007)

"From an Island" is the third song of David Leisner's song cycle Three James Tate Songs, which sets the poetry of James Tate.

From an Island
by James Tate


Fogged in all day, the long, low horns announcing
the passing of another ghostship.
But we see nothing. It's as if a curtain had been dropped.
Go back into yourself, it says. None of this matters
to you anymore. All that drama, color, movement --
you can live without it. It was an illusion,
a tease, a lie. There is nothing out here but smoke
from the rubble that was everything,
everything you wanted, everything you thought
you needed. Ships passing, forget it.
Children bathing, there's no such thing.
Let go, your island is a mote of dust.
But the horns of the ghostship say, remember us,
we remember you.


from Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994)


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