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Anthony Evan Hecht

(16 January 1923 - 20 October 2004 / New York)

After The Rain [for W. D. Snodgrass]


The barbed-wire fences rust
As their cedar uprights blacken
After a night of rain.
Some early, innocent lust
Gets me outdoors to smell
The teasle, the pelted bracken,
The cold, mossed-over well,
Rank with its iron chain,


And takes me off for a stroll.
Wetness has taken over.
From drain and creeper twine
It’s runnelled and trenched and edged
A pebbled serpentine
Secretly, as though pledged
To attain a difficult goal
And join some important river.


The air is a smear of ashes
With a cool taste of coins.
Stiff among misty washes,
The trees are as black as wicks,
Silent, detached and old.
A pallor undermines
Some damp and swollen sticks.
The woods are rich with mould.


How even and pure this light!
All things stand on their own,
Equal and shadowless,
In a world gone pale and neuter,
Yet riddled with fresh delight.
The heart of every stone
Conceals a toad, and the grass
Shines with a douse of pewter.


Somewhere a branch rustles
With the life of squirrels or birds,
Some life that is quick and right.
This queer, delicious bareness,
This plain, uniform light,
In which both elms and thistles,
Grass, boulders, even words,
Speak for a Spartan fairness,


Might, as I think it over,
Speak in a form of signs,
If only one could know
All of its hidden tricks,
Saying that I must go
With a cool taste of coins
To join some important river,
Some damp and swollen Styx.


Yet what puzzles me the most
Is my unwavering taste
For these dim, weathery ghosts,
And how, from the very first,
An early, innocent lust
Delighted in such wastes,
Sought with a reckless thirst
A light so pure and just.

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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