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Robert Graves (1895–1985). Fairies and Fusiliers. 1918.

34. Smoke-Rings


MOST venerable and learned sir,

Tall and true Philosopher,

These rings of smoke you blow all day

With such deep thought, what sense have they?


Small friend, with prayer and meditation

I make an image of Creation.

And if your mind is working nimble

Straightway you’ll recognize a symbol

Of the endless and eternal ring

Of God, who girdles everything—

God, who in His own form and plan

Moulds the fugitive life of man.

These vaporous toys you watch me make,

That shoot ahead, pause, turn and break—

Some glide far out like sailing ships,

Some weak ones fail me at my lips.

He who ringed His awe in smoke,

When He led forth His captive folk,

In like manner, East, West, North, and South,

Blows us ring-wise from His mouth.