Donald Davidson (poet)

American poet (1893–1968)

Donald Grady Davidson (August 8, 1893 – April 25, 1968) was a U.S. poet, essayist, social and literary critic, and author. He is best known as a founding member of the Nashville, Tennessee, circle of poets known as the Fugitives and of an overlapping group, the Southern Agrarians.


  • I want the word that burns into my heart
    Like God's coal alive on the Prophet's tongue.
    I would listen now while memory is ablaze
    To seal your testament within my soul.
    • Soldier and Son
  • Why did my father write? I know he saw
    History clutched as a wraith out of blowing mist
    Where tongues are loud, and a glut of little souls
    Laps at the too much blood and the burning house.
    • Lee in the Mountains
  • The seed of Appomattox blooms; its fruit
    Rots where eyes are dazed with a hungry searching,
    And ears are deaf with steps that murmur and follow
    No command.
    • The Last Charge
  • Farewell,
    Army of Tennessee! Rough glory, rooted here,
    Feeds the lone vow, the lingering touch
    Of a late comrade sworn to remember you!
    Lights glow from river and town. The darkness stabs.
    And winter sweeps the undefended earth.
    • The Last Charge
  • The whispering in the marrow spreads to the brain;
    The remembering heart carries it round again
    Till it beats in the throat, the lips, the weeping eye
    And is born at last in a blazing wordless outcry.
    • Late Answer: A Civil War Seminar
  • We mourned with you then in brotherhood,
    And I'll weep with you now for those whose names
    Burn on your monuments like altar flames.
    • Late Answer: A Civil War Seminar
  • We, too, have names that blaze on mouldering stone
    And I have seen men's tears fall where they slept
    And heard a shouting while I wept,
    A century off yet louder in my ear
    Than all that's so much magnified and near.
    • Late Answer: A Civil War Seminar
  • Something stirs that once had life. It drops
    Into the stream, a last act of faith.
    Seedballs of sycamore, incautious leaves of willow,
    These have outstayed their autumn, teasing death
    Only so far, not yet beyond all patience.
    Now they let go.
    • Aunt Maria and the Gourds
  • The sky drips its spectral
    And Gods, like men, to soot revert.
    Gone is the mild, the serene air.
    The golden years are come too late.
    Pursue not wisdom or virtue here,
    But what blind motion, what dim last
    Regret of men who slew their past
    Raised up this bribe against their fate.
    • On a Replica of the Parthenon
  • Father remembered the wild pigeons crowding
    Beech groves, mast-rich. The flutter in boughs, the cloud
    Darkening all, a hurricane circling and surging.
    Eye lost count, ear could not measure sound.
    Mind hurled measureless with them, feathered the sky.
    • The Horde
  • This is an autumn when they come no more.
    Beech leaves yellow and fall, the beech-mast rots
    Uneaten. Infertile now the beech
    Hollows its heart, begetting naught.
    There is frost on the grandson's eyes,
    And only rumor upon the skies...
    • The Horde
  • Then no soft arms could hold me from my wilderness
    To reap at daylight's fallow edge, with bullet or knife,
    That flicker of hoof or pelt, that flash of wings returning -
    The dogs trace it - harvest of life that gives me life.
    • Second Harvest
  • For he has seen a road by healing waters
    Hushed into wintry slate against the sand,
    And spoken there with the wind's elfin daughters,
    And mingled in their dusty saraband.

    He has known winds that blow from blossomy closes,
    Rich with the fruity smell of summertide,
    And kissed warm faery lips... Now he reposes,
    While we are not quite certain he has died.
    • A Dead Romanticist
  • The probing knife of madness
    Can start a dullard brain;
    Cold cheeks feel kisses
    And warm with tears again
    • Redivivus
  • Then let my skeleton soul
    Writhe upward from its loam,
    Drink red morning again,
    And look gently home.
    • Redivivus
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