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For Pan

I did not know when I had climbed the hill
Past cruel rocks and thorny underbrush
That I should find so desolate a place.
There land ended on barren cliff,
There earth and sea embraced
In perpetual union of tenderness and strife-"
Unyielding stone against relentless wave.
There was the loneliness of God
Molding the first small world in mist and flame.

I would have fled the awful emptiness
Had I not seen you standing there,
Poised lightly as a gull on swirling surf-"
Bright promontory of defiance-"
Your arms flung windward,
Your hair a golden pennant.
And though no word was uttered
Above the tumult of advancing tide,
You came uncalled
And placed your hand in mine.

There on the furthest rim of earth
We stood, my hand in yours,
Your breath upon my cheek,
Our wild impatient dreams
Thundering echoes of the flood,
Our laughter mocking ancient shibboleths,
Shattering boundaries of space and time.

Beloved comrade, high-hearted rebel,
If I had paused,
Let wisdom shield the vulnerable heart,
I would have walked a safer path,
Crept blindly underground
And never glimpsed your shining essence,
Earth-trapped star on lonely height.

MacDowell Colony, April 1959

Written by Pauli Murray (1910-1985)


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