A State of Inquiry

Editor’s Note:  This guest post from Thomas Banks begins by alluding to the proverbs of Agur, which should be familiar to a lot more people than it actually is.  If you struggle with the poem, look up Proverbs 30:18-20.

The hawk’s rapacious circuit in the sky,
The serpent coiled discretely on the stone
And ship upon the sea left no reply
To him who made them bread for meditation.

No practice that could tempt us to perfection,
In love or work or silent revery
Unriddles itself like the flagrant sun,
But slowly it unfolds its secrecy.

Some mysteries bless those who search them blindly
With sounder wisdom and with sharper sight.
Some oracles there are do not take kindly
To suppliants dragging secrets into light.

And your half-smile is wealthy in suggestion,
Which modestly a simple answer scorns,
Leaving me thirsty with my arid question–
Why smiles the lily dryly in the thorns?