John Hollander’s ‘Swan and Shadow’

Swan and Shadow
Dusk                          
Above the                           
water hang the                                
loud                      
flies                       
Here                       
O so                         
gray                           
then                             
       What             A pale signal will appear
    When         Soon before its shadow fades
    Where       Here in this pool of opened eye
  In us     No upon us at the very edges   
 of where we take shape in the dark air
  this object bares its image awakening
 ripples of recognition that will
   brush darkness up into light
even after this bird this hour both drift by atop the perfect sad instant now
   already passing out of sight
 toward yet-untroubled reflection
  this image bears its object darkening
 into memorial shades Scattered bits of
  Light     No of water Or something across
    water       Breaking up No Being regathered
    Soon         Yet by then a swan will have
       gone             Yes out of mind into what
vast                             
pale                           
hush                         
of a                       
place                      
past                     
sudden dark as                               
if a swan                          
sang                         
                        

John Hollander: "Swan and Shadow"

Swans 15

Source: Poetry Foundation (Poetry Magazine, digital edition; December 1966).