Friday, March 26, 2010

June Light - R. Wilbur

Wilbur (1921-  ) is one of those poets - despite two Pulitzers, one National Book Award, numerous other prizes, etc. AND being named Poet Laureate of the United States - who was falling out of favor just when I first started reading poetry seriously in the early 70s.  His poetry was considered too "optimistic", too formal and also not self-exposing enough as the so-called "Confessional" poets (Sylvia Plath being the most prominent).  I, on the other hand, never liked Plath much: to me, there is a direct line from her to this obsession our society has with self-exposure on TV, both as participants in and viewers of reality TV.   I have always liked this one for the feeling of airiness, hope, and joy.  (But also note the rhyming scheming and structure...)
June Light

Your voice, with clear location of June days,
Called me – outside the window. You were there,
Light yet composed, as in the just soft stare
Of uncontested summer all things raise
Plainly their seeming into seamless air.

Then your love looked as simple and entire
As that picked pear you tossed me, and your face
As legible as pearskin’s fleck and trace,
Which promise always wine, by mottled fire
More fatal fleshed than ever human grace.

And your gay gift – Oh when I saw it fall
Into my hands, through all that naïve light,
It seemed as blessed with truth and new delight
As must have been the first great gift of all.

Richard Wilbur - American  (celebration)

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