The Shepherds

September’s come, let’s go: migration time.
In the Abruzzi lands my shepherds now
are leaving their summer folds: down they climb,
sloping toward the untamed Adriatic,
its brine as green as pastures in the mountains.

They have drunk deeply from the upland fountains,
hoping the taste of native waters may
linger as solace in their exile hearts
and cheat the thirst that dogs them on their way.
Each is clutching a fresh-cut hazel crook.

They take the path their fathers’ fathers took,
the old drove-road, which bears them to the plain
as if upon a silent current of grass.
And oh the trembling sea, and the young swain
shouting at what he’s never seen before!

The flock is moving now along the shore.
Around it, all the air is at a stand.
The sun has turned that cloud of living wool
so blond it’s hard to tell it from the sand.
Splashing, tromping, sweet noise upon the air—

Ah, why am I not with my shepherds there?

                                               Translated by Geoffrey Brock