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Was due to pack the passes twelve feet deep
Within the month. So time and space would keep.
Yet, as I paused, it was as if I saw
My passage as the work of blinding law,
Law like a bright illimitable day
That lit no single spot where meaning lay.
Figures moved there -- my own, others like mine --
And, secretive with distance, gave no sign.
And fi fty winters since that hour passed
I see them still: they move and are held fast,
From time to timeless rising in recall
Like water dammed above its natural fall
Irresolutely rippling, and then stilled.
But I was no such image caught and held.
And knew it, too. Where year-old snowbanks leaked
In eastward trickles while the cold unlocked,
I eased myself off backward, had to watch
One at a time each foothold I could catch,
Every recalled detail of polished rock
Pulling my boot against it with a shock;
Then crossed the tundra to my horse, and wound
Through water-fl ashing pine-shade. Water sound
Joined water sound in fresh identities,
Broke downward through the valley-cramming trees,
Then gathered in the canyon, and the roar
Tremored the rocks I rode through as before --
Both old and new: I had turned back on the year
Before the year was done. Old waste, old fear
Remained its matter; and, since unconcluded,
They could not be accepted, or eluded,
Lest I should die before my life was done.