1937Our sardine fishermen work at night in the darkof the moon; daylight or moonlight
They could not tell where to spread the net,unable to see the phosphorescence of theshoals of fish.
They work northward from Monterey, coastingSanta Cruz; off New Year's Point or offPigeon Point
The look-out man will see some lakes of milk-colorlight on the sea's night-purple; he points,and the helmsman
Turns the dark prow, the motorboat circles thegleaming shoal and drifts out her seine-net.They close the circle
And purse the bottom of the net, then with greatlabor haul it in.I cannot tell you
How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible,then, when the crowded fish
Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wallto the other of their closing destiny thephosphorescent
Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender bodysheeted with flame, like a live rocket
A comet's tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outsidethe narrowing
Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come upto watch, sighing in the dark; the vast wallsof night
Stand erect to the stars.Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light:how could I help but recall the seine-net
Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you howbeautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all togetherinto inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapableof free survival, insulated
From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on alldependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in. They hardly feel the cords drawing, yetthey shine already. The inevitable mass-disasters
Will not come in our time nor in our children's, but weand our children
Must watch the net draw narrower, government take allpowers--or revolution, and the new government
Take more than all, add to kept bodies kept souls--or anarchy,the mass-disasters.These things are Progress;
Do you marvel our verse is troubled or frowning, while it keepsits reason? Or it lets go, lets the mood flow
In the manner of the recent young men into mere hysteria,splintered gleams, crackled laughter. But they arequite wrong.
There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knewthat cultures decay, and life's end is death.
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