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March 2010


I've been listening to this CD of poems, read by the poets who wrote them, called Poetry On Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work (1888-2006). I don’t pretend to comprehend the meaning, symbolism or metaphor, running through some of the deeply complex poems, but they are beautiful, and inspiring, to hear, if just for alliteration, meter, rhythm and intonation.

It’s astounding to experience William Butler Yeats reading “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree”, a poem written in 1888, and recorded for the wireless in or around 1932. But the one poem from the compilation that I keep coming back to, that I cannot seem to hear often enough, is Richard Wilbur’s poem “Love Calls Us To The Things Of This World”.

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

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys, 
And spirited from sleep, the astounded
Hangs for a moment bodiless and
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with

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
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they
With the deep joy of their impersonal

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

The soul shrinks
From all that it 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
And clear dances done in the sight of

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

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