9 (the first flush of dawn)

THE FIRST FLUSH of dawn glistens on the dew-dripping leaves of the forest.

The man who reads the sky cries:

'Friends, we have come!'

They stop and look around.

On both sides of the road the corn is ripe to the horizon,

the glad golden answer of the earth to the morning light.

The current of daily life moves slowly

between the village near the hill and the one by the river bank.

The potter's wheel goes round, the woodcutter brings fuel to the market, the cow-herd takes his cattle to the pasture,

and the woman with the pitcher on her head walks to the well.

But where is the King's castle, the mine of gold, the secret book of magic,

the sage who knows love's utter wisdom?

'The stars cannot be wrong,' assures the reader of the sky.

'Their signal points to that spot.'

And reverently he walks to a wayside spring

from which wells up a stream of water, a liquid light,

like the morning melting into a chorus of tears and laughter.

Near it in a palm grove surrounded by a strange hush stands a leaf-

thatched hut,

at whose portal sits the poet of the unknown shore, and sings:

'Mother, open the gate!'