Poets’ Corner

A Prayer for Split Men

Almighty God, To whom all restless hearts are open All old desires known And from whom no guilty secrets are hid Of thy great mercy, Regard the split men. Regard the man Who still dreams Christian dreams, Who cannot pass a chapel Except he enters in, Who cannot hear a carol Except he joins the…

Haven

We saw it sink; the tides took it, the tug of oars between the strand and formlessness that left the sands forlorn; out past the wrack, beyond the harbour-walls’ embrace, the embers ebbed to black. Listen, the land is locked in silence; waves and waders moved as one to cede the shore; the godwits gone,…

ANGHENFIL

People say there are no longer any ogres left in the world, but it is not true. I have a friend in a distant country who was afflicted by one for some years. Bran had amassed a great collection of historical and artistic material on behalf of his nation and was famous for his work…

On Dying

Where, O Death, is your sting?         If we increase the IV Morphene bolus               You won’t feel a thing. There is nothing painful or hateful       About this death. Cast your anxieties on Him —     Be anxious for nothing.        Or X units of…

Joseph’s Suspicion

by Rainer Maria Rilke The angel spoke to him and took great pains to reach the man, whose hands were tightly balled: “But don’t you see that in her every fold she is as cool as God’s own early morn?” Yet back at him the other darkly stared, muttering just “What’s made this change in…

Compiègne

—June 2001, June 1940 I We take the train, a friend and I, northeast from Paris.  Old Compiègne has cobblestones, fine buildings, souvenirs of war (not least, an empress’s museum), overtones of failure.  First, we visit the château, have lunch at a café, outdoors, in shade, then find a taxi driver free to show us—somber…

Rondel for a Passing Year

  Autumn’s flaming color scheme has faded; Dusk has smothered shortened day’s last ember. Can the brown chrysanthemums remember When their blazing hues became outdated? Last month’s lawn was jewel-green brocaded Tapestry inlaid with red and amber: Autumn’s flaming color scheme unfaded. Now, dusk has smothered shortened day’s last ember. Days ago two seasons, still…

The Measure of Things

“It’s hard sometimes not to measure by the world’s ruler.” I can still hear Miss Lila’s voice saying those words, though I can’t remember now if she spoke about the need to avoid measuring by the world’s measures, to turn away from the things that the world values—that would have been like her—or whether she…

The Christmas Sled

  . . . for the World is both a Paradise and a Prison                                      to different persons.—Thomas Traherne A blizzard more than fifty years ago. Wind-gusted snow took its sweet time to fall, Twenty-nine hours from start to stop. Snow shock. Cars sideways, stuck. People cut off from home, Stranded. Unhurryable shoveling. Troubles that…

Migrations

At dawn, the cranes that slept along the margins of the lake begin to stretch their wings and murmur. Mist ascends around our rowboat. Then in sudden clamor they splash and rise, trumpet across the sky to feast on corn before their long trip south. The sun lifts, silent, from the east. And now the…

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