I could have wept to see
The world at such a stretch performed below me
Or largely frozen for me:
Peaceful flanks and banks of
Chipped and hardened rock;
Gentle waves of forest lower down
And vulnerable townspieces
In a haze of secrets and modesties.
This one reluctant beginning
By a climber who is driven more
Through the lack of action, not
The desire for it; by the consanguinity
Of sun and space:
Wrenched earthwards, wet and weary
Later that afternoon when the world changed
And sought to prevent my return.
I am losing sight of the beginnings
That have lost their way before midday,
Put paid to by my bad form,
Or have petered out like a nameless path
Or made a nonsense of
By what has already been achieved
And need not be again.
I will weep to see
The heights I will not have reached
The exposures to which I will not be subjected,
The intimacy with an open expanse
That is the private joy of the mountain climber.
Every broken beginning may be little more
Than talk into a void,
May require more tenacity than
A five-hour climb
But will wrench the emotions clear
Into a more lucid dimension
That will stir the sinews to raise the arm,
Bid the spirit to flame.