while his fills were breathing inthe terrible oxygen-the frightening gills,fresh and crisp with blood,that can cut so badly-i thought of the coarse white fleshpacked in like feathers,the big bones and the little bones,the dramatic reds and blacksof his shiny entrails,and the pink swim bladder like a big peony.i looked into his eyeswhich were far larger than minebut shallower, and yellowed,the irises backed and packedwith tarnished tinfoil seen through the lensesof old scratched isinglass.they shifted a little, but notto return my stare.-it was more like the tippingof an object toward the light. i admired his sullen face, the mechanism of his jaw,and then i sawthat from his lower lip-if you could call it a lip-grim, wet, and weapon like,hung five old pieces of fish-line,or four and a wire leaderwith the swivel still attached,with all their five big hooksgrown firmly in his mouth.a green line, frayed at the endwhere he broke it, two heavier lines,and a fine black threadstill crimped from the stain and snapwhen it broke and he got away.
like medals with their ribbonsfrayed and wavering, a five-haired beard of wisdom trailing form his aching jaw.i stand and staedand victory filled up the little rented boat,from the pool of bilgewhere oil had spread a rainbowaround the rusted engineto the bailer rusted orange,the sun-cracked thwarts, the oarlock on their strings,the gunnels – until everythingwas rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!and i let the fish go.
the iron kettle sings on the stove.she cuts some bread and says to the child,its time for a tea now; but the childis watching the teakettle’s small hard tearsdance like the mad on the hot black stove,the way the rain must dance on the house.tidying up, the old grandmotherhangs up the clever almanacon its string. birdlike, the almanachovers half open above the child, hovers above the old grandmother and her teacup full of dead brown tears. she shivers and says she thinks the housefeels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.it was to be, says the marvel stove.i know what i know, says the almanac.with crayons the child draws a rigid houseand a winding pathway.
then the childputs in a man with buttons like tearsand shows it proudly to the grandmother. but secretly, while the grandmother busies herself about the stove,the little moons fall down like tearsfrom between the pages of the almanacinto the flower bed the child has carefully plates in the front of the house. time to plant tears, says the almanac.the grandmother sings to the marvelous stoveand the child draws another inscrutable house.
a woman like that is not a woman, quite.i have been her kind.I have found the warm caves in the woods,filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,closets, silks, innumerable goods;fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:whining, rearranging the disaligned. a woman like that is misunderstood.
i have been her kind.I have ridden in your cart, driver,waved my nude arms at villages going by,learning the last bright routes, survivorwhere your flames still bite my thighsand my ribs crack where your wheels wind.a woman like that is not ashamed to die.i have been her kind
. Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” Let us go and make our visit. In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes, Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea. In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. And indeed there will be time To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair — (They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”) My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin — (They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”) Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. For I have known them all already, known them all: Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume? And I have known the eyes already, known them all— The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? And how should I presume? And I have known the arms already, known them all— Arms that are braceleted and white and bare (But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!) Is it perfume from a dress That makes me so digress? Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume? And how should I begin? Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? … I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! Smoothed by long fingers, Asleep …
tired … or it malingers, Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid. And would it have been worth it, after all, After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, Would it have been worth while, To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it towards some overwhelming question, To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”— If one, settling a pillow by her head Should say: “That is not what I meant at all; That is not it, at all.” And would it have been worth it, after all, Would it have been worth while, After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor— And this, and so much more?— It is impossible to say just what I mean! But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: Would it have been worth while If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, And turning toward the window, should say: “That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all.
” No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous— Almost, at times, the Fool. I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me. I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
come to the window, sweet is the night-air!only, form the long line of spraywhere the sea meets the moon-blanched land,Listen! you hear the grating roarof pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,at their return, up the high strand,begin, and cease, and then again begin,with tremulous cadence slow, and bringthe eternal note of sadness in.Sophocles long agoheard it on the aegean, and it broughtinto his mind the turbid ebb and flowof human misery; wefind also in the sound a thought,hearing it by this distant northern sea.the sea of faithwas once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shorelay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.but now i only hearits melancholy, long withdrawing roar,retreating, to the breathof the night=wind, down the vast edges drearand asked shingles of the world.ah, love, her us be trueto one another! for the world, which seemsto lie before us like a land of dreams,so various, so beautiful, so new,hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;and we are here as on a darkling plainswept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,where ignorant armies clash by night.
The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pramwhen i came in, and i was embarrassedby old men standing up to shake my handand tell me they were ‘sorry for my trouble’.whispers informed strangers i was the eldest,away at school, as my mother held my handin hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.at then o’clock the ambulance arrivedwith the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.
Next morning i went up into the room. snowdropsand candles soothed the beside; i saw him for the first time in six weeks. paler now,wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,he lay in the four-foot box as in his cot.no gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.a four-foot box, a foot for every year.
she had rolled up her windowand told him to drive on, fast.Now this act of mercy: four daughtersdragging her to their husbands’ picking, white families on one side and themon the other, unpacking the same squeeze bottles of heinz, the samewaxy beef patties and salem potato chip bags.so he was dead for the first timeon fourth of july – ten years agohad been harder, waiting for something to happen,and ten years before that, the girlslike young horses eyeing the track. last august she stood alone for hoursin front of the TV setas a crow’s wing moved slowly throughthe white streets of government.
that brave swimmingscared her, like joanna sayingMother, we’re afro-americans now!what did she know about africa?were there lakes like this onewith a rowboat pushed under the pier? or thomas’ great mississippi with its sullen silks? (there wasthe Nile but the Nile belongedto God.) where she came from was the past, 12 miles into townwhere nobody had locked their back door,and goodyear hadn’t begun to dream of a parkunder the company symbol, a white footsprouting two small wings.
Why should the world be over-wise,in counting all our tears and sighs?nay, let them only see us, while we wear the mask. We smile, but, o great christ, our criesto thee from tortured souls arise. we sing, but oh the clay is vilebeneath our feet, and long the mile;but let the world dream otherwise, we wear the mask!
we keep the wall between us as we go.to each the boulders that have fallen to each.and some are loaves and some so nearly ballswe have to use a spell to make them balance:”stay where you are until our backs are turned!”we wear our gingers rough with handling them.
of, just another kind of outsold game,one on a side. it comes to a little more:there where it is we do not need the wall:he is all pine and i am apple orchard.my apple trees will never get acrossand eat the cones under his pines, i tell him. he only says, “good fences make good neighbors.”spirng is the mischief in me, and i wonderif i could put a notion in his head:”why do they make good neighbors? isn’t itwhere there are cows? but here there are no cows.
before i built a wall i’d ask to knowwhat i was walling in or walling out,and to whom i was like to give offense.something there is that doesn’t love a wall,that wants it down.” i could say “elves” to him, but it’s not elves exactly, and i’d ratherhe said it for himself. I see him threbringing a stone grasped firmly by the topin each hand, lie an old-stone savage armed.
he moves in darkness as it seems to me,not of woods only and the sahde of trees.he will not go behind his father’s saying,and he likes having thought of it so wellhe says again, “good fences make good neighbors.”
the jar was gray and bare.it did not give of bird or bush, like nothing else in Tennessee.
My little horse must think it queerto stop without a farmhouse nearbetween the woods and frozen lakethe darkest evening of the year.he gives his harness bells a shaketo ask if there is some mistake. the only other sound’s the sweepof easy wind and downy flake.the woods are lovely, dark and deep,but i have promises to keep,and miles to go before i sleep, and miles to go before i sleep.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use! As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life Were all too little, and of one to me Little remains: but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this gray spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. This is my son, mine own Telemachus, To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,— Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil This labour, by slow prudence to make mild A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees Subdue them to the useful and the good. Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere Of common duties, decent not to fail In offices of tenderness, and pay Meet adoration to my household gods, When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail: There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners, Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me— That ever with a frolic welcome took The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old; Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; Death closes all: but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, ‘T is not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
i callthat piece a wonder, now: fra pandolf’s handsworked busily a day, and there she stands. will’t please you sit and look at her? i said”fra Pandolf” by design, for never readstrangers like you that pictured countenance, the depth and passion of its earnest glance, but to myself they turned (since none puts bythe curtain i have drawn for you, but i)and seemed as thy would ask me, if they durst,how such a glance came there; so, not the firstare you to turn and ask thus. sir, ’twas nother husband’s presence only, called that spot of joy into the duchess’ cheek: perhaps Fra Landolf chanced to say “her mantle lapsover my lady’s wrist too much,” or “painmust never hope to reproduce the faint half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuffwas courtesy, she thought, and cause enoughfor calling up that spot of joy. she hada heart – how shall i say?- too soon made glad,too easily impressed; she liked whate’ershe looked on, and her looks went everywhere. sirr, ’twas all one! my favor at her breast.the dropping of the daylight in the west,the bough of cherries some officious fool broke in the orchard for her, the white muleshe rode with round the terrace – all and eachwould draw from he alike the approving speech,or blush, at least. she thanked men-good! but thankedsomehow- i know not how- as if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old namewith anybody’s gift. who’d stoop to blamethis sort of trifling? even had you skillin speech – which i have not- to make your willquite clear to such an one, and say,” just thisor that in your disgusts me; here you miss,or there exceed the mark: – and if she letherself be lessoned so, nor plainly sether wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse, -e’en then woul dbe some stooping; and i choose never to stoop.
oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,whene’er i passed her; but who passed withoutmuch the same smile? this free; i have commands;then all smiles stopped together. there she standsas if alive. will ‘t please you rise? we’ll meetthe company below, then. i repeat, the count your masters known munificence is able warrant that no just pretense of mine for dowry will be disallowed;though his fair daughter’s self, as i avowedat starting, is my object. nay, we’ll gotogether down, sir.
notice naptune, thought, taming a sea-horse, thought a ririty, which claus of innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
and for all this, nature is never spent;there lives the dearest freshness deep down things;and though the last lights off the black west wentoh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-because the holy ghost over the bentworld broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
when wasteful war shall statues overturn,and broils root out the work of masonry,nor mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burnthe living record of your memory.’gainst death and all-oblivious enmityshall you pace forth; your praise shall still find roomeven in the eyes of all posteritythat wear this world out to the ending doom.so, till the judgment that yourself arise, you live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes
in me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,that on the ashes of his youth doth lie,as the deathbed whereon it must expire,consumed with that which it was nourished by. this thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,to love that well which thou mist leave ere long.
“and we are put on earth a little space,that we may learn to bear the beams of love,and these black bodies and this sun-burnt faceis but a cloud, and like a shady grove.”for when our souls have learned the heat to bear,the cloud will vanish; we shall hear his voice,saying: ‘come out from the grove, my love and care,and round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.’ “thus did my mother say, and kissed me;and this i say to little english boy:when i from black and he from white cloud free,and round the tent of god like lambs we joy,I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bearto lean in joy upon our father’s knee;and then i’ll stand and stoke his silver hair,and be like him, and he will then love me.
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind, They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind. And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy, He’d have God for his father & never want joy. And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark And got with our bags & our brushes to work. Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm; So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
..predominantly reeds:I have reached no conclusions, have erected no boundaries, shutting out and shutting in, separating inside from outside: I have drawn no lines: asmanifold events of sandchange the dune’s shape that will not be the same shape tomorrow,so I am willing to go along, to accept the becomingthought, to stake off no beginnings or ends, establish no walls:by transitions the land falls from grassy dunes to creek to undercreek: but there are no lines, though change in that transition is clear as any sharpness: but “sharpness” spread out, allowed to occur over a wider rangethan mental lines can keep:the moon was full last night: today, low tide was low: black shoals of mussels exposed to the riskof airand, earlier, of sun,waved in and out with the waterline, waterline inexact, caught always in the event of change: a young mottled gull stood free on the shoals and ateto vomiting: another gull, squawking possession, cracked a crab, picked out the entrails, swallowed the soft-shelled legs, a ruddyturnstone running in to snatch leftover bits:risk is full: every living thing insiege: the demand is life, to keep life: the smallwhite blacklegged egret, how beautiful, quietly stalks and spears the shallows, darts to shore to stab—what? I couldn’t see against the black mudflats—a frightened fiddler crab? the news to my left over the dunes andreeds and bayberry clumps was fall: thousands of tree swallows gathering for flight: an order held in constant change: a congregationrich with entropy: nevertheless, separable, noticeable as one event, not chaos: preparations forflight from winter,cheet, cheet, cheet, cheet, wings rifling the green clumps,beaksat the bayberries a perception full of wind, flight, curve, sound: the possibility of rule as the sum of rulelessness:the “field” of actionwith moving, incalculable center:in the smaller view, order tight with shape:blue tiny flowers on a leafless weed: carapace of crab:snail shell: pulsations of order in the bellies of minnows: orders swallowed, broken down, transferred through membranesto strengthen larger orders: but in the large view, nolines or changeless shapes: the working in and out, together and against, of millions of events: this, so that I make no form of formlessness:orders as summaries, as outcomes of actions override or in some way result, not predictably (seeing me gain the top of a dune,the swallowscould take flight—some other fields of bayberry could enter fall berryless) and there is serenity: no arranged terror: no forcing of image, plan,or thought:no propaganda, no humbling of reality to precept:terror pervades but is not arranged, all possibilities of escape open: no route shut, except in the sudden loss of all routes: I see narrow orders, limited tightness, but will not run to that easy victory: still around the looser, wider forces work: I will try to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening scope, but enjoying the freedom thatScope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision, that I have perceived nothing completely,that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.
Delicate as an earring, it carries its emptiness like a child It would be rid of. I rub it clockwise and counterclockwise, hoping for anything Resplendent in its vocabulary or disguise— But one and one make nothing, he adds, endless and everywhere, The shadow that everything casts.
Hopkins – Felix randal
new statue.in a drafty museum, your nakednessshadows our safety. we stand round blankly as walls. i’m no more your motherthan the cloud that distills a mirror to select its own sloweffacement at the wind’s hand.all night your moth-breathflickers among the flat pink roses. i wake to listen:a far sea moves in my ear.one cry, and i stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floralin my victorian nightgown.
your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. the window squarewhitens and swallows its dull stars. and now you tryyour handful of notes;the clear vowels rise like balloons.
I wonder if it’s that simple?I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.I went to school there, then Durham, then hereto this college on the hill above Harlem.I am the only colored student in my class.The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevatorup to my room, sit down, and write this page:It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.I like a pipe for a Christmas present,or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.I guess being colored doesn’t make me not likethe same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?Being me, it will not be white. But it will bea part of you, instructor. You are white— yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. That’s American.Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me. Nor do I often want to be a part of you.But we are, that’s true! As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me— although you’re older—and white— and somewhat more free.
This is my page for English B.
Many had lost their boots, But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of gas-shells dropping softly behind. Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,— My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.
What voice more sweet than hers When, young and beautiful, She rode to harriers? This man had kept a school And rode our wingèd horse; This other his helper and friend Was coming into his force; He might have won fame in the end, So sensitive his nature seemed, So daring and sweet his thought. This other man I had dreamed A drunken, vainglorious lout. He had done most bitter wrong To some who are near my heart, Yet I number him in the song; He, too, has resigned his part In the casual comedy; He, too, has been changed in his turn, Transformed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. Hearts with one purpose alone Through summer and winter seem Enchanted to a stone To trouble the living stream. The horse that comes from the road, The rider, the birds that range From cloud to tumbling cloud, Minute by minute they change; A shadow of cloud on the stream Changes minute by minute; A horse-hoof slides on the brim, And a horse plashes within it; The long-legged moor-hens dive, And hens to moor-cocks call; Minute by minute they live: The stone’s in the midst of all. Too long a sacrifice Can make a stone of the heart. O when may it suffice? That is Heaven’s part, our part To murmur name upon name, As a mother names her child When sleep at last has come On limbs that had run wild. What is it but nightfall? No, no, not night but death; Was it needless death after all? For England may keep faith For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough To know they dreamed and are dead; And what if excess of love Bewildered them till they died? I write it out in a verse— MacDonagh and MacBride And Connolly and Pearse Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;my hand tingledto burst the bubblesdrifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish.My hand draws back. I often sigh stillfor the dark downward and vegetating kingdomof the fish and reptile. One morning last March,I pressed against the new barbed and galvanizedfence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting as they cropped up tons of mush and grassto gouge their underworld garage.Parking spaces luxuriate like civicsandpiles in the heart of Boston.A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girdersbraces the tingling Statehouse,shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shawand his bell-cheeked Negro infantryon St. Gaudens’ shaking Civil War relief,propped by a plank splint against the garage’s earthquake.
Two months after marching through Boston,half the regiment was dead;at the dedication,William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe. Their monument sticks like a fishbonein the city’s throat.Its Colonel is as leanas a compass-needle.He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,a greyhound’s gentle tautness;he seems to wince at pleasure,and suffocate for privacy.He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man’s lovely,peculiar power to choose life and die—when he leads his black soldiers to death,he cannot bend his back.
On a thousand small town New England greens,the old white churches hold their airof sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flagsquilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic.The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldiergrow slimmer and younger each year—wasp-waisted, they doze over musketsand muse through their sideburns . . .Shaw’s father wanted no monumentexcept the ditch,where his son’s body was thrownand lost with his “******s.”The ditch is nearer.
There are no statues for the last war here;on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph shows Hiroshima boilingover a Mosler Safe, the “Rock of Ages”that survived the blast. Space is nearer.When I crouch to my television set,the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.Colonel Shawis riding on his bubble,he waitsfor the blessèd break.The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,giant finned cars nose forward like fish;a savage servilityslides by on grease.
Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race. How should we dream of this place without us?— The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us, A stone look on the stone’s face? Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost, How the view alters.
We could believe, If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy, The lark avoid the reaches of our eye, The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn As Xanthus once, its gliding trout Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return, These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken? Ask us, prophet, how we shall call Our natures forth when that live tongue is all Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean Horse of our courage, in which beheld The singing locust of the soul unshelled, And all we mean or wish to mean. Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding Whether there shall be lofty or long standing When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.