Randall Jarrell

(May 6, 1914 – October 14, 1965 / Nashville)

Hope


The spirit killeth, but the letter giveth life.
The week is dealt out like a hand
That children pick up card by card.
One keeps getting the same hand.
One keeps getting the same card.
But twice a day -- except on Saturday --
The wheel stops, there is a crack in Time:
With a hiss of soles, a rattle of tin,
My own gray Daemon pauses on the stair,
My own bald Fortune lifts me by the hair.
Woe's me! woe's me! In Folly's mailbox
Still laughs the postcard, Hope:
Your uncle in Australia
Has died and you are Pope,
For many a soul has entertained
A Mailman unawares --
And as you cry, Impossible,
A step is on the stairs.
One keeps getting the same dream
Delayed, marked "Payment Due,"
The bill that one has paid
Delayed, marked "Payment Due" --
Twice a day, in rotting mailbox,
The white grubs are new:
And Faith, once more, is mine
Faithfully, but Charity
Writes hopefully about a new
Asylum -- but Hope is as good as new.
Woe's me! woe's me! In Folly's mailbox
Still laughs the postcard, Hope:
Your uncle in Australia
Has died and you are Pope,
For many a soul has entertained
A mailman unawares --
And as you cry, Impossible,
A step is on the stairs.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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