Terra Firma

by Philip Levine

Tie me down, tie me down,

Before I fly away.

Uplifted by the wind,

Free of my moorings.


If I were a bird,

The wind would be my home.

Tie me down, tie me down,

Before my soaring heart breaks free.


Anchor me with heavy iron,

And a big thick rope

So I won’t float away

On the swift currents of the deep.


If I were a fish,

The deep would be my home.

Anchor me, anchor me,

Keep me from dissolving into mystery.



Cover me with a heavy wet blanket,

I fear I’m starting to burn.

The sun’s fire is working its way in,

I am melting, without identity.


If I were a spark,

The flames would be my home.

Cover me, cover me,

Before I am done and wake up free.


Enter me, please enter me,

Claim me for Your own.

Fertile, dark, and earthy,

Bring me forth, your harvest.


Since I am a man,

The Earth is my mothering home.

Plow me deep and reap me.

Accept my fruits, as yet uneaten.


When You claim me as your own,

Without water, fire or air,

Just ash and dust and soil,

May my debt stand free and clear.


1995 Philip Levine