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Howard Nemerov

(29 February 1920 – 5 July 1991 / New York City, New York)

Amateurs of Heaven


Two lovers to a midnight meadow came
High in the hills, to lie there hand and hand
Like effigies and look up at the stars,
The never-setting ones set in the North
To circle the Pole in idiot majesty,
And wonder what was given them to wonder.

Being amateurs, they knew some of the names
By rote, and could attach the names to stars
And draw the lines invisible between
That humbled all the heavenly things to farm
And forest things and even kitchen things,
A bear, a wagon, a long handled ladle;

Could wonder at the shadow of the world
That brought those lights to light, could wonder too
At the ancestral eyes and the dark mind
Behind them that had reached the length of light
To name the stars and draw the animals
And other stuff that dangled in the height,

Or was it the deep? Did they look in
Or out, the lovers? till they grew bored
As even lovers will, and got up to go,
But drunken now, with staggering and dizziness,
Because the spell of earth had moved them so,
Hallucinating that the heavens moved.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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