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Summer Unbound and Other Poems

Summer Unbound and Other Poems

Copyright Date: 1958
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 72
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  • Book Info
    Summer Unbound and Other Poems
    Book Description:

    Summer Unbound and Other Poems was first published in 1958. The Amy Lowell Travelling Scholarship Fund made it possible for Mr. Mayo to spend two years recently in England, and it was during this time that most of these poems were written. He has said of this experience: “During my visit I came to love England and the English people very much, but I’, not at all sure I understand them any better. I hope some of my affection shows in the poems -- as well as bewilderment. “Travel abroad, I have found, tends to intensify one’s sense of nationality. It broadens you at least to the extent of helping you realize your own narrowness. At the same time, however, by increasing your detachment, it allows you to see your own nation in a somewhat broader perspective.” This is Mr. Mayo’s third published collection of poetry. His first, The Diver, was published in 1947 by the University of Minnesota Press. The 45 poems in this volume are grouped under five general headings -- places, letters and encounters, myths and enactments, modes, and considerations. Some of the poems have appeared previously in periodicals, including the Times Literary Supplement (England), Poetry, the New Statesman and Nation (England), Truth (England), and the Nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6362-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])

    • the house on pleasant street
      (pp. 3-3)


      Lived there in my time. The ground was full

      Of granite outcroppings — and walking by

      Alone in late November in the rain

      You knew the tangled grass was all rock under.

      Its wooden domes and cupolas had grown

      Gray through and through, and there were several signs,

      KEEP OFF, NO TRESPASSING, as gray as they,

      But in the high top windows there was still

      Glass to catch the sunsets. You might say,

      “Someone is in. How soon their lights are on!”

      Until you looked again. They pulled it down

      Because it was too big for anyone,

      And the employed...

    • granite city
      (pp. 4-4)

      The granite sidewalks and the granite warrens

      Of granite houses on the granite hills

      Keep them warm enough, and roses, roses

      Still in October, still now in November

      Charge their back gardens, dooryards, window sills.

      Every stoop is scrubbed to the mineral bone;

      Every lamppost holds a basket up

      For wastepaper and newspaper. Bars and such

      Dissolute lackeys to dissolving nature

      Lurk in back alleys, close at half past nine.

      Calvin incarnated in granite here

      What Euclid crystallized, and precious time

      (Since every steeple has a clock in it)

      And God are one, and man predestinate

      To a good tombstone....

    • londoners
      (pp. 5-5)

      hate the past. Only Americans

      get excited about it. If you’re strangled

      with cold castles and monuments to the dead

      good and bad clutter the public ways

      and forms for filling fill your nights and days

      you don’t necessarily love them because they are there.

      Still, there they are: you stand in a queue and stare

      at miles of chimney pots and masonry

      and say: I live here, I have lived here

      in soot, chill, patience, and courtesy

      and the cool of the Thames of a summer evening

      eating a bun on a bench watching the shipping,

      and glory too,...

    • postwar landscape
      (pp. 6-6)

      Insulate, unhyssoped, shy of song,

      These strong and clever hands stretched out toward good

      Weave Egypt over gardens

      They will not see, they cannot seed. The world

      Soots over; only barracks and airport

      Shine clear, and in an hour

      These, too, will all be sooted over. Only

      The sky’s delicate, soft-coal-smoke gray

      Is real, and all production fawns on war.

      Lear’s little dogs, Tray, Blanche, and Sweetheart, see

      How they bark ! Who is the running man?

      Allans enfants!the telescreen within

      Instructs the children in the Master Plan.

      And all who thought to find

      Love in the waste of...

    • twinkling
      (pp. 7-7)

      Under the sullen of a Surrey fall

      Let sun but for a moment well and spill

      Out of the overcast, and every door

      (How bright they paint their doors!) and every flower —

      Wildflower, bush, and beech-leaf suddenly are

      Wild with the colors of Jerusalem.

      John’s Vision, quick as a cat’s claw

      Snatches you in, and there

      Shining with every gem and precious stone

      Stands the Indelible City Blake saw

      In the pulsation of an artery

      And in another, gone....

    • hometown
      (pp. 8-8)

      Maiden, city of my dead youth,

      City of tired sleepers and no glories,

      Detoured by Paul Revere, where Sacco’s ghost

      Wails round the Baptist Church; city of Judson,

      Bringer of light to Burma, who dying there

      Never knew how dark it grew elsewhere;

      City of Sunday mornings deep with bells

      Where under elms and maples with my father

      I walked to a church that smelt of damp plaster

      (I thought it then the smell of rectitude)

      And one day heard my pretty Sunday School teacher

      Tell how they crucified Christ and when I cried

      Somebody kicked me hard under the...

    • occupied territory
      (pp. 9-10)

      We are not the first

      Inhabitants, the sole proprietors,

      Nor thrid the mazes of the Minotaur

      With lucky string. Nature is innocent

      Of nothing, nothing. Only a tissue thin

      Curtain in the brain shuts out the coiled

      Recumbent Landlord. Lift it and look there,

      There where among huge alien stones the hawk

      Leans to the singular scream of the struck hare....


    • apparition
      (pp. 13-13)

      Sun, moon, and stars forever stalking me,

      Give me a sense of nakedness. It is

      Hard for one so much in the public eye

      To be perfectly natural. Nevertheless,

      As I strolled out this evening minding my business

      And trying to put the best possible face on things,

      My stick (I am, unfortunately, blind)

      Encountered this resilient projection.

      I poked again, and then, the wind veering,

      Gave up a most unpleasant exhalation.

      The odor would have turned me, but the corpse,

      Shuddering, trembling, stirring,

      Screamed in the shattering

      Way they have: “Away! Get away! Leave me

      To contemplate the facts...

    • tapestry
      (pp. 14-14)

      Lady, my love and all my sole desire,

      Ruling our harsh antagonist, Rumor’s

      Ugly tongues, with the strong skill you have,

      Love and sustainer of the triple loves

      That love us and are loved more than the tongue’s

      Power to utter — caught in a mystery

      That weaves their little loves through iron wires

      That spring may leap magnanimous with flowers

      Beyond the tongues of prophecy, and grass

      Softer than eyelashes of head-on-arm

      Children asleep from play. The Unicorn’s

      Flickering silver lightning and the roar

      Of my Gold Lion guard your garden, Lady.

      Oh all my senses are

      Yours, smell, touch,...

    • to a friend teaching in the provinces
      (pp. 15-15)

      As you say, John, it is narrowing

      And cold, and if the soul was ever sublime

      It has forgotten where and what it was,

      “Peace” rhymes with “cease.” Was there another rhyme?

      Bombs help, but we never needed them to tell

      What we have learned of apples above all:

      Gravitation made the apple fall

      With the connivance of a certain worm

      That nibbled Newton too, and nibbles

      Us and our green ball till every star

      Slips like popcorn to explosion.

      Therefore we fight. This is the true war

      Fought in the narrow skull’s, the heavy heart’s

      Remotest provinces, and we...

    • the return of prospero
      (pp. 16-16)

      Prospero, bury that big book

      Fifty fathom deep, and turn, turn

      Back to Milan: responsibility

      Up to the waist, up to the lips again.

      They nudge each other, say Look, Look,

      His beard is hawthorne and his crown is gold,

      And you possess the world

      In double sovereignty having the popular will.

      But Ariel, the adorable potentate

      Who whipped waves wild or made them rear

      Back on themselves and sleep, is ransomed now

      And Caliban raised to a million

      Your proper study. Magic was a kind

      Of politics but less empirical,

      For things above have their equation

      In things below,...

    • letter to too many people
      (pp. 17-18)

      Now — as if it mattered: there are so many people

      writing so many poems — I write to you

      To say that everyone is still

      very well, although

      Somewhat beside themselves, there being more to do

      than they can do, and airplane pilots higher

      up in the air than we are

      look freer.

      Feet, feet, feet, feet, feet

      For all their being cocked up in evening’s seat

      are never quite rested by morning any more,

      and hair

      grows rare.

      Friends that I miss,

      I think there’s something specious in all this.

      And so I set my face

      rigidly (but secretly of...

    • homage to vincent
      (pp. 19-19)

      Pass, painter of proud Europe’s summer, down

      Mind-twisted ways to Torquemada-brown

      Hecatombs of leaves and summer’s end.

      Let grass and clover intermixed with weeds

      Incise, and the deft, delicate roots of trees

      Gather up your wound. The flickering hordes

      Of blackbirds that attacked your ripened grain

      And all those insupportable evergreens

      That whispered at your back have their reward:

      The yoke is lifted from your neckbone.

      And that proud Europe that possessed your ear

      Slumbers in sorrow on her bloody arm.

      Over the puddles of her abattoir

      The lean days draw immitigably down,

      But on her fortresses and cold cafés...

    • the sleeping beauty
      (pp. 20-20)

      In a place where hunchbacks and old women

      Quarreled in their thin voices all the day

      This temporizing grew intolerable:

      I knew that here the Sleeping Beauty lay.

      (Had they known it all the time and been

      Sly servitors where I could only seize

      Bad temper and distorted images?)

      Sight ended the old argument. I saw

      Her tower clear against the star-picked blue

      Over their hovels. It was no affair

      Of a cloud and the moon’s subtle conjunction; thorns

      Hatched me all criss-cross as I hacked my way through

      And stumbled bloody still and breathing still

      Into a country where...

    • poem for gerard
      (pp. 21-21)

      Understand too late? Of course we can:

      The love of everything, like winnowing,

      Scatters the spirit like fine dust, plum-bloom

      Over the world. Heart must be held, held down

      Of its own will, chained, hooded and become

      Deaf to itself and dumb

      To hear things speak themselves in their sole tongue.

      By stress and instress are their songs wrung

      Out of them, scaped and bruited; to possess

      Their breathing outwardness the eye must go

      In to their root and onward to their end

      Perishing with their vanishing to span

      From germ to the full grain

      Mountain or martyr, chestnut-leaf or...

    • the prince of odd and anger
      (pp. 22-22)

      The Prince of Odd and Anger,

      The Contrary King’s son —

      No foster child I sing —

      Could do anything

      Except betray the lust

      Overreaching dust

      And the laconic worm

      To raise up to the sun

      Incorruptible rhyme.

      Our wooden leg of words

      Sprouts his green leaf sadly

      That burgeoned and skipped gladly

      Under his regimen.

      Whateverwehad done,

      The sooner if done badly,

      If better done, yet soon

      He took a counter-path

      Into the sullen wood.

      Now in multitude

      We revel in a garden

      Eye had never seen

      In all Arden

      When winds are in the North

      But for his...

    • to the archpoet
      (pp. 23-23)

      On bulls, and wearing roses,

      The men with varnished faces,

      The boys who never were young

      Stripped for the tired town.

      “But you,” the nightwind said,

      “Be night; pretend you’re dead;

      Yet listen, shivering, chill,

      For April and her bird.

      “Despair, Despair, Despair

      Nibbles flake by flake

      That dainty carrousel

      Art for Art’s Sake. Go wear

      “Sackcloth beneath your neat

      Business suit; go eat

      Hunger for your meat

      With the most elegant air.

      “Let the mad old, the dead young

      Behave their have, but you,

      Attentive to the throe

      Of the nightwind, O

      “Archpoet and polymath,

      Become what you have...

    • letter to my grandfather’s picture
      (pp. 24-26)

      When you were a boy, Grandfather, you lived on a farm

      Sturdily, and, as soon as you could,

      Homesteaded, and had a farm of your own.

      But slavery? You chose the Cavalry

      (You spelt it “Calvary”), one leg for two,

      The City, and a little jewelry store;

      The factory at last. You died of a stroke

      Down at the Mill, fixing the factory clock,

      And fixed it very well. That Mill

      Has knitted now till every boy and girl

      Enters it as the world. The spindles

      Carry the yarn in zigzags and tilted angles

      Which enters every color under heaven...


    • the monitor reports
      (pp. 29-29)

      The man who will cut his throat, and the man who will twist

      From some high office-building window kissed

      The girl who will end in a gas oven one of these days.

      The bartender, who will die of psittacosis

      At the age of 80, served them with Four Roses

      Knowing better than they do what it is.

      Then there entered in the sad young man

      In a gray overcoat who does not know

      That every living room and every bar

      In all the world contains a time machine.

      He was timidly smiling. Every customer

      Eyed him with horror, shuddered to...

    • the gentle people
      (pp. 30-30)

      The Gentle People said, “We’ve too much power

      Of traction for an overt act of war,”

      And drew together in a bomb-shelter

      To hobble violent Nature and become

      Still in the heart of Pandemonium.

      They voted to become invisible

      And wear a gray, impenetrable caul

      Over their faces while their shoulders

      Propped the heavy hills, the hanging hours

      That hid their Occupation from our eyes.

      Protestant within, unreconciled

      To what the Eye sees upon this star

      That the Heart cannot know, they stilled and still

      Likerous tides in the full moon. I fear

      The world revolves more slowly every year....

    • the gracious ones
      (pp. 31-32)

      The poor things wear

      Thin, and very often I suppose

      Grow very hungry. It’s hard in the sun’s glare

      (And neon’s glare) to fear the Gracious Ones.

      Living and dying

      More brilliantly than moths or butterflies

      Or those small, moving, asymmetrical

      Lights called stars that fade out every morning,

      We fly and burn, and only

      Science fiction or a murder tale

      Makes us wonder,Are they faithful?

      Even our well-mannered children

      Are noisier, more fractious far than these,

      And when they sleep and give us a moment’s peace,

      Before we look, before we realize,

      The heavy lids of our eyes...

    • ptyx
      (pp. 33-34)

      “Hold this!” I held it. We were outside Time

      In the cold and the dark and trying to get in.

      Just then something gave, and there I was

      In broad daylight holding this instrument.

      You were cavorting all over the meadow

      In hot, strong sun. I called but you were gone

      Across the brook, beyond the apple trees

      Where I could just make out the smoke of chimneys.

      Now the trinket that I held in my hand

      Was obsolete, a thing of empty sound,

      A worn and dusty Ptyx; yet this alone

      Had sprung the barrier and throbbing screen


    • the coming of the toads
      (pp. 35-35)

      “The very rich are not like you and me,”

      Sad Fitzgerald said, who could not guess

      The coming of the vast and gleaming toads

      With precious heads, which, at a button’s press,

      The flick of a switch, hop only to convey

      To you and me and even the very rich

      The perfect jewel of equality....

    • making your poem
      (pp. 36-36)

      Begin it only if you must. At first

      You’ll surely miss the poem at which you aim,

      Then hit it perfectly some other time

      When you are aiming elsewhere. You will find

      Everything coming out quite different.

      To your astonishment the reader’s mind

      Will change it imperceptibly, and then

      The poem itself will seem to you to disdain

      You and your sweating thought — it’s a wise poem

      Knows its own father. I’ve had one

      Cut me dead in the street. A poem solves

      Only itself, serves but itself, and he

      Who makes one can never go back again

      To what...

    • one
      (pp. 37-37)

      The unstable lights in the sky, the unaccountable

      Behavior of dials and all clocks proclaim

      Time’s end — and no one is responsible.

      With many a chipped chime and cracked gong

      Towers toll the end of balancing

      Power against power, and arranging

      Cleverly, with the utmost energy,

      The matter of our last humiliation.

      No one is responsible. All, all

      Have excellent reasons. Has no Irishman

      In the blind language of the setting sun

      Told its coming on? Have no wise men

      Patiently following a wizened star

      Through the all-seeing Eye on Palomar

      Reported in the patined sky no pattern

      But the...

    • the myth and the makers
      (pp. 38-39)

      Pomp, circumstances, varying lords, or a lass

      Run every world-Atlas

      On his own sword in the end, where, unlike Charles,

      It never occurs to him to apologize

      For his unconscionable time a-dying.

      The purple slowly pumping out of him,

      An Antony for pure amazement cries,

      “I’m dying, Egypt, dying!”

      No god, no god; and yet the tawny queen

      Who taught her weeping to the crocodile

      Found sweet the venom of a mothered worm

      For lack of him. Because an Antony

      Dies as he has lived, largely;

      Empires crumble where his knees give way,

      Chasm where he hits, and all his...

    • the ringing
      (pp. 40-40)

      In your hand; it is within your hand

      And therefore inaccessible and you

      Also walk the Valley of Desolation

      Among the thousand thousands.

      It is more

      Than flesh can bear; it breaks under it; therefore

      So many and so many in the night

      Dream their tomb, assuming in the dream

      The prenatal posture.

      There was a teacher,

      Once, who in a blackboard found a door

      Into a garden, into a green garden,

      And everyone who wished could enter there.

      Then the bell rang.

      It is still ringing.

      The patient, tolerant substance

      Of which we make our tables and our chairs...


    • the dial and the mole
      (pp. 43-43)

      Quite casually we nodded, shared in talk

      Whatever occurred to us, and still the lull

      Grew like a bubble till it held all:

      Your house, my house; your children on this lawn,

      Mine on the other lawn, and in between

      As far as we could see there was no line,

      Picket, or privet-hedge, or wire wall —

      Only this common sundial where you

      Sometimes told the time and I too

      Divided us. There was no other world.

      Then, overnight, all split; each hemisphere

      Shut sharply in the better to exclude

      All but one view: its own. In every skull

      The fissure...

    • the poet who talks to himself
      (pp. 44-44)

      The poet who talks to himself

      In despair

      Or to an audience of


      Married to the poem,

      Knows once for all

      What nagging lies between

      Thewilland theshall;

      Perceives that beauty is not

      Thought, but the object of thought

      And dances to its end

      Hovering in the wind

      Like doves, to settle down

      About some casual man

      Offering a casual crumb

      Or not, as casual can,

      Both being portion of

      The carelessness of love

      Which finds the perfect rhyme

      Nowhere and in no time....

    • the match
      (pp. 45-45)

      Put sinew in it, for it never was

      chined prose — that

      smells of phosphorescent fat. Your poet

      knows sensation and the mind’s play

      are not the lot: only the only way

      to rule all things together, rein and ride

      once more over the scared, indignant town

      the courser of Medusa’s founted blood

      and Death’s astonishment. With words, then,

      common as dirt, but soundly skeletoned

      as a good house, resilient as grain

      make it if you can; and when your door

      thunders and it is Time, invite Time in

      and let them try which is the mightier,

      he or this Babe...

    • the shapers
      (pp. 46-46)

      Troglodytes, stretched in their cobalt cave,

      The clouds loll, lulled by the thrilling music

      And lightning logarithms of the wind.

      Rapscallions, they loll and do not care

      What their wheeling shadows do down here

      Engulfing or releasing. A moment ago

      I was swallowed by a cloud shadow;

      Now sit blinking here in the sun’s glare.

      The wind’s invisible; and yet the wind

      Shapes processions of fortuitous cloud

      As fortune shapes the mind, or as the tongue

      The flux of words that rises from the brain

      Shapeless and without form, so I command

      And canvas a tall ship to sail the...

    • do not feed the elephant
      (pp. 47-47)

      O closed in glass, clothed in impenetrable

      Crystal, walk among us, gracious

      Ice among fever, fresh air among gas,

      But whether with peanuts or withaequitas

      Do not feed the elephant.It is

      What it is — a trunk, a leaf, a wall,

      A tongueless snake, or two sharp scimitars —

      The doctors differ — you alone are free

      To watch in silence and be wonderful.

      Wound in our webs of wisdom, we can see

      Better than you our rich, our eloquent

      Subjectivity, but you are sent

      That we may freely know our punishment:

      Kindly do not feed the elephant....

    • spring is coming
      (pp. 48-48)

      They say the blood of winter, color of rye,

      Shall yet unclot and flow in the streets of spring.

      Let the king do as he pleases, live delicately;

      Time ishisking.

      But I must get on with my work, consume

      This heap of paper on the office table

      Steadily, gradually. The room

      Is austere and bare, a scholar’s room

      So let the man knock. I have no lack;

      Why should I let him in?

      But I can’t keep my mind on my work, am not myself

      In this uproar.

      (All within of course, in the nerves, in the mind....

    • swim
      (pp. 49-50)

      The first thing you saw was a man.

      He stood on the bank making geometrical figures.

      As fast as his finger traced them on the air

      The glittering ovals, rhomboids, circles fell

      Into the stream and were carried away. The stream

      Consisted entirely of them.

      And if a few were more opaque than others,

      None were so black you could not see the brown

      Earth-bed through their swift procession.

      You thought yourself quite different at the time,

      But looking at involves, and once in

      You were carried away. What had seemed mere diagram

      Floating about at various distances

      Resolved itself...

    • summer unbound
      (pp. 51-51)

      A leaf fell just now,

      Bronze as an Indian squaw,

      Warm and dead, indubitably so,

      Twirling in my office window

      It settled on my typewriter, and I

      Let it lie. Why should I tap on

      Through Indian Summer’s satisfaction

      With itself, and who am I to disturb

      Death’s ideal working conditions? Lie

      Still, brown leaf. But I,

      Closing the door, must carry my conclusions

      Past ART and ECONOMICS through the warm

      Campus where above me a jet plane

      Like a surrealist poet whose metaphor

      Exceeds his grasp, outstripping its own rasp,

      Inscribes a line tinged by the sinking sun


    • handbag
      (pp. 52-52)

      For generations mothers, daughters, grandmothers

      Have carried one. Curiously fine

      The click it makes, separating time

      Past from time present with

      Matter-of-factness, tangibility.

      When you snapped yours just then, suddenly

      I could not think woman grows wholly woman

      Until she has one. It has the sound

      Of a mind made up before the mind

      Knows what it has done. White-armed

      Helen must have lifted one just so

      And clicked it so when the gray Argive sand

      First felt the keel of the black ship from Troy —

      And in that moment had already come,

      A tall white flame, to kindle Ilium....


    • the swimmers
      (pp. 55-55)

      Under the sea was our equation:

      Language slid from us and our fluid eyes

      Welled comfort and despair; under this world

      Our crystal and invisible angels

      Not without blood altered their idiom.

      Dry is the shore, and the sun’s paradigm

      Declines all shell to shale; inflected fin

      Crisps to a curl, drops off, and gill is gone.

      Moist, sullen creatures under a damp stone

      Slink from the sun’s abstraction, but we

      Poised on a forked, laborious stratagem,

      Plunge inland willy-nilly, far from home,

      Engrossing air, swallowing sun, but our

      Ensutured caves contain the ocean still:

      In every hollow shell we...

    • fall abstract
      (pp. 56-56)

      Autumn was quick this year: the squirrels worked

      Harder for acorns; almost everywhere

      I saw the scuttle of a furry nation

      With button eyes on a foregone conclusion

      I cannot see; and all I know is when

      My vacuum cleaner with a sudden spurt

      Gobbled some tacks the children had left on the floor

      I heard machine-gun fire and hit the dirt.

      Tonight I saw the moon

      Stick in the crotch of the oak outside my house —

      But not for long, as I moved it came loose.

      Whichever way I turn, wherever I look

      Everything seems immortal but the soul...

    • deity
      (pp. 57-57)

      “When I go back . . .”; but the rockfall

      Spoiled all that, the air unbreathable

      And the tunnel crammed, stuffed with so much

      Indubitably rich rubbish, rubbish still

      All but impenetrable. But yet note down, Pencil

      Of light I write by, neither weak nor strong

      But narrowly sufficient, having paused

      Long enough by this low wall to see:

      That every moment bears the next moment

      Out of a womb that snaps like a trap, as hard

      As the adamant around us and that God

      Is dead in history (perfect) and daily dies

      More minutely in all backward eyes;


    • the loss
      (pp. 58-58)

      If I much concern myself with this,

      You do too, and all who do not seem

      Stone faces dreaming stone’s dream

      Of nothing, nothing, like the images

      On Easter Island. All the animals

      Follow us with their eyes as we go by

      Wondering what we look for. In the sky

      Red fades out to black and the night falls,

      Night and the ignorance of eyes; but we

      Light matches, matches; on our hands and knees

      Ransacking every hummock, every tree’s

      Droppings for any nickel, dime, or cent

      Of the incredible emolument

      We never lost until we looked to see....

    • three ladies
      (pp. 59-59)

      My first is rare and gracious, courtesy

      And light and darkness mingle in her face:

      She dwells at day’s end in a most luminous place:

      Food, wine, and lanterns of civility.

      My second scorns such gross and bodily

      Clinging to houses and rich provender,

      Saying it ripens like a yellow pear

      Only for others, rots for itself; and she

      (My second lady) hunts a dangerous prey

      Through harsh, unsettled pastures where burdock

      Sticks to her clothes but cannot bar her way

      And eats wild grapes, a native of the rock.

      My third, in blue, sits on a stone nearby


    • praise for the earthkeepers
      (pp. 60-60)

      Earthkeepers, how agile are your ways,

      Your strategies still able to elude

      The claws of the mountains that close over us.

      All your hot heroes who attempt those tors

      And come back shivering, blubbering blood, to say

      “That way’s impassable! Don’t try that way!”

      Would never have tried in the first place at all

      Did you not know your course

      Right from the moment of their setting forth:

      And through the longest night, the shortest day

      Trim, fill, and set ablaze

      Every lamp you have, for thus, they,

      Teetering destruction by destruction,

      Recall the earthkeepers, and in the daze


    • moving
      (pp. 61-61)

      Moving from one poised intelligibility

      To another, out of life, out of time,

      How anxiously, looking before, behind,

      Above, below, we leave the lumpedness,

      Substance without form, the Devil’s heart

      Extended endlessly in pure duree,

      The horrible concreteness of living;

      The furtive way thoughts creep up from behind

      And pounce on us ! the beautiful, if true

      A panther met, a flicker passing and

      Hurting with its blessing. Ugliness,

      The shadow cast by all we are and do,

      Slinks through the vegetation. Only abstraction,

      The swift malevolent whiteness Ahab knew

      In bank, bench, legislature, laboratory

      Lures us at last, for...

    • snow scene
      (pp. 62-62)

      This is a snow scene on rice paper. (I

      Forget the artist’s name.) The feathery

      Flakes are falling still, and someone

      Wearing a snow-peaked coolie-hat shoulders

      A snowy burden, and his old horse too

      Carries a load that comes to a peak of snow.

      Both move toward a village in the pines.

      Whether the man who leads the horse is you,

      Or whether on immaculate rice paper

      In Japan three hundred years ago

      You saw it and your brush denned the scene,

      You too set black on white, or reading lines

      Black on white, shoulder, in an expanse

      As innocent...

    • joy of man’s desiring
      (pp. 63-63)

      Needle sliding in the groove,

      Resurrect undying love:

      Shining metal, turn again —

      Past the whisper in the brain

      Of its own destruction —

      Thought to intuition:

      You have reason, Reason none,

      For it filters coldly down

      Towers black with soot this light

      That is neither day nor night

      But darkness rational, late star

      Of him who shall be Lucifer

      Nevermore, and underground,

      Mathematically bound,

      Fractions all till nova brim

      White light over Bethlehem.

      Still emerge from the machine

      Light that Satan has not seen

      On land or sea; and needle probe

      Time’s resistance until Love,

      Born again in the dull cave...