Robert Pelgrift is an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City. His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, Rotary Dial, The Galway Review, The Foxglove Journal, The Waggle, Long Island Quarterly, The Eclectic Muse, Trinacria and Now Then Manchester.
The Death of Orpheus
He whose music moved Persephone
and wet the Furies’ cheeks is gone; his eyes
still seek his Stygian bride, but in dark skies,
his lyre, star-sown on blue, is still as he.
And Alph runs dry, and fleeting restlessly
about the shadows, the Great Spirit’s sighs
play a silent harp; the winged Dryad flies
songless since her great Maker ceased to be.
And now have our mute spirits waited long
for the Muse whose sweet voice will give them words,
whose lyre will play them honeyed melodies,
like the poet’s harp, trembling into song
when all our spirits’ sighs disturb its cords,
as if they were ruffled by a soft breeze.
When Shrouds Unfold
White clouds once shredded by a hurried breeze
are shoals on a black sea. Beneath the clouds,
the highest leaves and branches of oak trees
stir in still air. Black hanging, bundled shrouds
unfold, and then begins a silent whir
of dense black air, swept by stretched, ribbed, webbed arms
that bear a drove of gliding shapes that stir
the dark and criss-cross cut through swarms
of schooling lighted points. And in the oaks
above, alert songbirds perch silently,
heeding the criss-cross trails below; and then,
as blackness turns to gray, the fanning strokes
seem to slow; phantom shapes rise sightlessly,
and settle; and the black shrouds fold again.
From Generation to Generation
‘I know the world goes fast and
one generation forgets another.’
—Henry James, The Aspern Papers
At birth, marriage and death, the Reverend
Youngs ministered to each generation;
he gave comfort and hope; then, at the end,
a tribute to him was called “The Race Won.”
Generations later, a young man won
school honors which foretold what he would do
in a long life, for he had just begun
the race; but years ago, he finished too.
A later generation comes upon
the musty yellowed testimonial,
and the school prize, a dusty old volume
of plays. And now that the two men are gone,
what’s left must last as a memorial
to the accomplishments of each of them.
The Rush of Night
How very slowly these morning hours passed,
deed by deed the day grew; with care I chose
each word and thought, each moment forced to last
‘til filled, and only then allowed to close.
Then the day quickly doubled, as the hours
spent ending each beginning seemed to blend
together and rush by, and my dulled powers
scarcely heeded their surge toward light’s end.
So, filled with learning a new life, with fears,
mistakes, questions, my first years seemed to last
a life; then in an instant surge of years,
the span of another lifetime had passed.
And now, as the day deepens in twilight,
at last, I feel the onward rush of night.