Saturday, August 16, 2008

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World by Richard Wilbur

Here's one of my favorite Richard Wilbur poems. It's a great read to start your morning.


Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.
Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
And cries,
``Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.''

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter loveTo accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

``Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.''


Richard Wilbur was born in 1921 in New York City.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry and is a former poet laureate of the United States.  He currently lives in Cummingham, Massachusetts. 

18 Comments:

Blogger domorey said...

That is beautiful. Thank you.

12:25 PM  
Blogger eponymagain said...

" ... the punctual rape of every blessed day ..."

1:12 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

"Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry"

Poetic and sweet, but this man has obviously never done loads of laundry - esp those loads of laundry after summer vacations. I think he'd change his tune...

2:02 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...

One of my favorites!

11:02 PM  
Blogger Doc said...

"once more in bitter love" this isn't the sort of love that our culture enshrines; we are usually asked to either accept the dreamy but vacuous love of Hollywood movies or reject Wilbur's concept of earth-bound real love in favor of cynicism and world-weariness.

BTW Sherman Alexie's "Grief Calls Us..." is not entirely antagonistic to Wilbur's concept of love, but grapples with one of the results of loving in a mortal world.

Thanks for posting all these fantastic poems!

4:45 PM  
Blogger zarb said...

To carry that love through into the day; to place thinking and doing as servant to loving is our aim

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