A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit
Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
Science, that simple saint, cannot be bothered
Figuring what anything is for:
Enough for her devotions that things are
And can be contemplated soon as gathered.
The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
There is no dusk to be,
There is no dawn that was,
Only there's now, and now,
And the wind in the grass.
Oh, not the loss of the accomplished thing!
Not dumb farewells, nor long relinquishment
Of beauty had, and golden summer spent,
And savage glory of the fluttering
A year or two, and grey Euripides,
And Horace and a Lydia or so,
And Euclid and the brush of Angelo,
Darwin on man, Vergilius on bees,
And here face down beneath the sun
And here upon earth's noonward height
To feel the always coming on
The always rising of the night:
Will it last? he says.
Is it a masterpiece?
Will generation after generation
Turn with reverence to the page?
This poem is for my wife.
I have made it plainly and honestly:
The mark is on it
Like the burl on the knife.