Whose fingers wore your ivory keys
So thin-as tempest and tide-flow
Some pearly shell, the castaway
Of indefatigable seas
On a low shingle far away-
You will not tell, we cannot know.
Only, we know that you are come,
Full of strange ghosts melodious
The old years forget the echoes of,
From the ancient house into our home;
And you will sing of old-world love,
And of ours too, and live with us.
Sweet sounds will feed you here: our woods
Are vocal with the seawind's breath;
Nor want they wing-borne choristers,
Nor the ocean's organ-interludes.
-Be true beneath her hands, even hers
Who is more to me than life or death.
About this poem
"To an Old Square Piano" was originally published in Jeffers' second collection, "Californians" (Macmillan, 1916).
About Robinson Jeffers
Robinson Jeffers was born on Jan. 10, 1887, in Pennsylvania. Jeffers' verse, much of which is set in the Carmel/Big Sur region, celebrates the beauty of the coastal hills and ravines. He died in 1962.
The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.