Karl Shapiro

(10 November 1913 – 14 May 2000 / Baltimore, Maryland)

Manhole Covers - Poem by Karl Shapiro

The beauty of manhole covers--what of that?
Like medals struck by a great savage khan,
Like Mayan calendar stones, unliftable, indecipherable,
Not like the old electrum, chased and scored,
Mottoed and sculptured to a turn,
But notched and whelked and pocked and smashed
With the great company names
(Gentle Bethlehem, smiling United States).
This rustproof artifact of my street,
Long after roads are melted away will lie
Sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world,
Bitten at the edges,
Strong with its cryptic American,
Its dated beauty.

Comments about Manhole Covers by Karl Shapiro

  • (6/17/2016 2:25:00 PM)

    This goes to your irksome tenant as a SCOLD when you dare. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (1/11/2016 10:45:00 PM)

    Immortality gained in the most unlikely place, by ones who never sought it, the manhole cover makers. Amazing. (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (1/11/2016 5:51:00 PM)

    It is good that we can find beauty in the functional because 80% of our manmade surroundings are functional and not creations of pure art (Report) Reply

  • Daniel Y. (4/9/2014 8:04:00 PM)

    A beautiful poem, full of wit and style.
    It's similar to some that I've done. Check out my poems
    The Couch
    (Report) Reply

  • Tim Stensloff (4/5/2012 10:35:00 AM)

    This is such an excellent back-handed compliment. (Report) Reply

  • (4/5/2012 7:54:00 AM)

    It lies there
    Surrounded by metal, as its own
    Encased in concrete
    Long hardened and dark with age.

    But below,
    A hidden kingdom
    Where elves play
    Emitting foul aromas
    That keep mankind away.

    And in these dark recesses
    Lurks a time capsule of the past
    When man walked upright
    And shouldered his burdens
    But, alas, no more.

    The manhole cover, Covers.

    (Report) Reply

  • (7/29/2006 11:37:00 PM)

    Mmhhh...giving me some new picture of these, by name so expressedly, united States of America (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: beauty, world, smile

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Poem Edited: Friday, July 29, 2011

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