Robert Francis


With an appraising, practiced eye,
Smoking his pipe, he scans the sky.

The smoke goes up to join the fog.
The fog comes down to join his thought.
Resting his foot on an old log
He contemplates what God hath wrought.

Smoke blowing west, smoke veering south–
He takes his pipe out of his mouth
And weighs the claims of rain and drouth.

In all fair weather he smells rain
So doggedly I wonder whether
He does not inwardly complain
That foul days sometimes breed fair weather.

But under this inscrutable sky
What can a prophet prophesy?

Robert Francis, Robert Francis: Collected Poems,
1936-1976, University of Massachusetts Press,