Friday, August 24, 2018

The Living Dead

~ Honouring our poetic ancestors ~

The Beautiful Changes

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides   
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you   
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed   
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;   
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves   
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says   
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes   
In such kind ways,   
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose   
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

– Richard Wilbur (1921-2017)

I had been thinking I should acquaint myself better with the poetry of Richard Wilbur. Then tonight I felt like finding a gentle, lovely poem to offset the nastier things that are going on in the world. I also thought that as I didn't find the time to write to the Midweek Motif prompt about the beauty of the world, it would be nice to present something fitting in my Friday post. As you see, all these threads came together – beautifully.

This appears to me a most delicate love poem as well. While it seems to be, and is, a celebration of the way Nature changes from one kind of beauty to another, doesn't it also say that the beloved grows only into a new kind of beauty with age?

He celebrates the beauties of Nature in this short YouTube interview-cum-reading, too:

(Patience! It seems to load slowly if at all. Read on and come back here, if you don't see it at once. Or else go direct to YouTube.) 

I was surprised to find that Wilbur died only last year, not even 12 months ago yet, having reached a great age himself.

A distinguished American poet and translator, he received numerous prestigious literary awards including two Pulitzers, and was the second Poet Laureate of the United States.

Known for his elegant language and meticulous craft, his work was out of vogue for a while, considered by many too formal and lacking depth of feeling. Reading it now, I think the feeling is there! He is now, again, being better appreciated.

An article in Poetry Foundation says more about this, and about his translations, particularly from Moliere, his books for children, and other prose works.

The obituary in The Guardian gives a succinct but thorough account of his life and work.  Wikipedia goes into even more detail.

And of course you can find his books on his Amazon page. I think his work is lovely, and will be reading more.

Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright)


  1. His work is very elegant, indeed, Rosemary. The feeling is there, and the wonder, at beauty of all kinds. What a wonderful poem!

    1. I hope you can watch the YouTube video also, in which it is evident that he is a very lovely human being. It appears to load slowly or not at all! I'll add the link as well.

    2. http://stardreamingwithsherrybluesky.blogspot.caAugust 25, 2018 at 11:24 AM

      He is lovely. He so adored his wife!

  2. This is a wonderful poem. The poet's words, like "the beautiful changes
    In such kind ways," are worth cherishing. Thanks for the share Rosemary.

  3. This poem is a gift! It more than makes up for skipping the Midweek Motif on a beautiful world. I'm happy, happy, happy to think of the field of grass as a pond, to notice the beautiful as it changes and changes me! I used to read Wilbur back in the day. I'm going to pick him up again.

    1. I think that would be to give yourself a treat! (Smile.)

  4. This is beautiful indeed, Rosemary. We need to spend more time reading this kind of poetry these days. I like the idea of contemplating the changes in the forest!

    1. Yes, I agree – more time reading poems such as this. Your own in the Pantry this week is in similar vein, and I love it. Such poems create a peaceful feeling, and remind us that life on this earth is a great gift no matter how dire our circumstances.

  5. Wonderful, Rosemary … stunning rhyme and cadence. His poetry has that light deft aspect to it that, for me, are reminiscent of strings of an instrument being plucked and strummed - words cascading somewhat like notes. I love poetry like this. Beautiful writing. Thanks for the introduction.

  6. It's so nice – my Friday feature always posts just as I am thinking about getting ready for bed. I give it a quick last check to make sure everything is correct, and by the time I am ready to retire there might be a post from someone whose morning I guess, is getting under way (often Sherry). Next day one or two comments might trickle in and I have to remind myself that if I am up and about many of my readers are most likely asleep. Then I go to bed again at the end of that day, and wake to see – oh goody, several more comments. And so it goes, with still more coming in later. They gladden my heart. Thank you all for taking the trouble ... and above all, for reading.

    1. I enjoy your features so much! Poems and comments come in a similar rhythm at Midweek--I love it.


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