Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Poem In Prose - A. MacLeish

One thing I've been noticing is the life span of several of the poets here.  Archibald MacLeish is no exception: 1892-1982.  I always pictured him as very patrician because of his career: first in his class at Harvard Law School (but quit law for writing!), Librarian of Congress, THREE Pulitzer Prizes (2 for poetry, one for drama), one National Book Award....Yet, I doubt that, today, outside of English classes, he is read or remembered.  I would even wager that's been true since before his death.  He is not flashy or experimental, he is "New England plain" in the poems I like best: unadorned, honest, solid, calling attention to and appreciating the ordinary without fanfare.  If it's not an oxymoron, an "accessible academic".   

This one is one of my favorites because lucky is the man who has a woman that is so much.... and lucky is the woman to have a man that can express his love so well and fully.  I like the plain-speaking, the LACK of the need to embroider and tie word-ribbons on the love he feels.  It takes a lifetime of knowing and loving someone to get to that point.  It's something that has - likely - passed me by at this point. 

Poem in Prose 

This poem is for my wife.
I have made it plainly and honestly:
The mark is on it
Like the burl on the knife.

I have not made for praise.
She has no more need for praise
Than summer has
Or the bright days.

In all that becomes a woman
Her words and her ways are beautiful:
Love’s lovely duty,
The well-swept room.

Wherever she is there is sun
And time and a sweet air:
Peace is there,
Work is done.

There are always curtains and flowers
And candles and baked bread
And a cloth spread And a clean house.

Her voice when she sings is a voice
At dawn by the freshening sea
Where the wave leaps in the
Wind and rejoices.

Wherever she is it is now.
It is here where the apples are:
Here in the stars,
In the quick hour.

The greatest and richest good,
My own life to live in,
This she has given me –

If giver could.

Archibald MacLeish - American

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