Take no flags to raise above a planet
Or a tract of countryside, where olive trees,
With twisted trunks distil civilisation
From a terrain; where, by a lean-to hut,
A woman, her face as hard as the stone
Of an olive, watches a string of goats;
You'll wait a long time for the words to come
To describe the conflicts that you've seen,
The routes you've taken, the research you've done,
What you have discovered.
But they'll turn out
Not as you intended; and instead
Of the sentences you'd meditated,
Grunts and whistles will astound
The audience. Would numbers or music
Better convey the story of your life -
The howling of a saxophone, murmur
Of a drum?
The trail's been difficult,
And it's spiral course helps you see why
Fibonacci's numbers match the order
Of cactus prickles and of sunflower seeds.
Forecasts may turn out to be accurate,
And will rob your story of surprise.
Trust in prophets, and you'll forget to think,
And repeat their dubious promises,
And neither see nor hear awakening birds
Blast the forest with their notes of crisis.
The sun will rise, it always has.
If not, it will be hard to say goodbye
To all the places you have visited,
To music and to staring pictures;
See cities and artefacts disappear;
Civilisations, which shout "look, look at me,"
Go with a bang, and no time for a tear.
Hope is important to hold in your head,
Though it may lead you to where dangers thrive,
It lives in trees and grass, sits in the wind;
Breeds joys, which taunt and gratify the eye,
Sows ideas in your brain that will turn out
Uncertain of their intent, become a shout;