The Empty Hills

The grandeur of deep afternoons,
The pomp of haze on marble hills,
Where every white-walled villa swoons
Through violence that heat fulfills,

Pass tirelessly and more alone
Than kings that time has laid aside.
Safe on their massive sea of stone
The empty tufted gardens ride.

Here is no music, where the air
Drives slowly through the airy leaves.
Meaning is aimless motion where
The sinking humming bird conceives.

No book nor picture has inlaid
This life with darkened gold, but here
Men passionless and dumb invade
A quiet that entrances fear.

by Yvor Winters

Comments (1)

I would call this one of Winter's 'ornate' nostalgic poems, like 'A view of Pasadena From the Hills' or 'The Slow Pacific Swell.' They remind me of Stevens in 'Sea Surface Full of Clouds.' I like the atmospheric sound of these poems, but they also seem a bit too 'artful.' I think that Winters' 'John Sutter' started out in the same mode, but transcended it and became something greater.