Written in about May, 1990, after my father died on April 25, 1990.
I speak here as Miranda, returning to “the magic isle” to see the place once more, and to seek for the magic her father renounced, hoping to find in it a sign of him.
Elegy for Prospero
The landscape is without its central figure:
No gleam of silver hair
Nor laughter in the grove. Gone is the wizard.
Singing birds move among the trees,
The sun is hot and rich, but he is gone.
I land my yellow boat upon the shore
And pull it in. Fish splash in reed and lily cluster
Round my bare feet in clear, still water.
Climbing the sandy path, I brush
An ancient, silvered stump which long ago
Served me for castle. Acorn kings dwelt there:
They, too, have gone.
This lush and tropic afternoon
A thousand-memoried scent
Emits from tiny budding figs
That he’ll no longer taste.
The ivy vine he raised around his window
Curls: abundant, and untroubled by his death.
Prospero, you are gone. Your absence
Permeates all. This red clay road, the stars,
The water– filled with your presence,
Filled with your absence.
Forlorn now the owl’s cry:
´There was lived here so vast, so powerful a life
That they who journeyed to our strange abode
Lingered, enchanted and amazed.
Yea, in this magic place,
A thousand spells were cast, a thousand dramas played,
Here miracles were wrought,
Here human and spirit did cavort,
But our revels now are ended.’
Unto this mysterious island I now return in wonder:
Into the silence, into the singing of birds
I inquire. The sky is deepening, empty.
Prospero, whence does that magic go
When the conjurer has renounced it?
Has it gone hence with he
Who stirred the storms?
Pine forest and memory answer:
“It yet awaits. It is in you.”
The whippoorwill begins its evening incantation.
–Isabella Fiske McFarlin