The Three

The Three
In the depth of winter
In the dark of night 
There was only one house, 
Only one light.

I walked down the path,
I knocked on the door. 
I do not think 
I’d been there before.

Music and light,
Three smiling faces. 
I was by the fire 
In seven paces.

Oh what a blossom
Oh what a feel! 
They showed me a seat; 
I joined in their meal.

After we’d eaten
We cleared out the things; 
‘One of us plays, 
One of us sings,

One of us dances.’
‘Then I will too,’ 
I laughed and looked, 
‘I’ll dance with you.’

The stars in the window,
The birds in the trees, 
The fire in the chimney, 
We were all these.

The sun in the morning,
The moon on its way, 
Roses and silver, 
Nothing was gray.

A rich deep blue,
A scarlet bloom, 
Like living liquids, 
Filled the room.

Then we sat down
And talked till dawn. 
Our eyes were shining. 
We could not yawn.

‘Where were you going?’ 
‘Coming to you.’ 
‘But you didn’t know.’ 
‘Of course, I knew.
 
I know what is
And what is not. 
I know the cold, 
I know the hot

I know what quickens, 
I know what kills; 
I know what drains; 
I know what fills

When I couldn’t see
I followed my nose. 
When I couldn’t hear 
I followed my toes.’

‘Then many a bump
And many a smack 
I expect you got 
On such a track.’

‘I certainly did.
I’m covered in bruises.’ 
‘You’re not, you know. 
Who wins, loses.

You are human
And we’re pleased 
That you found us, 
Though we teased,

But you must go
You cannot stay; 
Soon it will be 
Another day.

And you are called
Back to your place: 
Great is the work 
Of the human race.

Now, don’t be sad.
You won’t forget. 
And we are there 
In dry and wet;

In hot and cold,
Dull and shine, 
In wither and bloom’ 
You’ll see our sign.

Whenever you look
With light in your eyes 
You’ll almost see, 
And hear our cries.’

The house was fading,
The fire was gone; 
It was the earth 
I was standing on.

‘Goodbye goodbye,
True hearts can’t fail! 
Goodbye, goodbye, 
Green is the trail!’

It was very cold 
And rosy blue 
I heard the cock 
A doodle do.

I saw some smoke
And birds in trees 
I heard their laughter 
In the breeze.

I wasn’t sad
For I understood 
My friends were alive 
In water and wood.

A wonderful fire
Flamed through my heart. 
I’d walking to do; 
I made a start.
Alan Jackson
Reprinted by permission of the author
Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson is a Scottish poet and writer who established influential poetry readings at the Edinburgh Festival in the 1960s. 

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