With Singing and Banners

Demosthenes, a wise man, filled his mouth
with pebbles before speaking,
and a stream which has run ten feet over rocks
is clear, they say, and safe to drink;
yet we forget what is owed to our failures –
blessings, to praise the stumbled on stone.
And forget what we once knew, how to properly greet
old enemies, for whose sake we practice and parry,
become strong:
with singing and banners, with gladness.

Jane Hirshfield

(from Of Gravity and Angels)


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