Sonnet in a Knothole
We idled at our doings, heart and I.
We watched the puddle lose its glaze of frost,
measure the April in a pale March sky
And saw the birch tree root all newly mossed.
Filling our fingernails with spring, we raked
And burned and swept, and breathed, and chopped some
And even in that easiness, heart ached
To keep this noon forever, if we could
But no one guessed (we made no outward stopping)
The sudden woodsman stroke that we incurred
When down through fiber, grain, and knotted wit
The oak of language shivered, cleanly split
By the flashed ax blade of the perfect word.
We tightened steel to helve, and went on chopping.
Christopher Morley, The Ballad of New York, New York,
and Other Poems, 1930-1950
I found this little vintage volume of Morley's poems last
month in that marvelous second hand bookstore with
the creaky hardwood floors and scent of wood and