Saturday, January 23, 2010

a man for all seasons: 1904


To Herbert Cahoon

Black, under the candlesticks, moving in harness
To a slow music, we hang the sepulchre

And hear the herald angels sing, “He is not here.”
It is mid-November. The first snows

Have fallen silently over the town. I eat
Black pudding at the alter while a dove

Descends from the flaming tower. Later,
Dr. Rashdall, behind whose scholarship

A generation’s knowledge burns, will unmask
Newman. But now it is mid-November.
I eat black pudding and the dove descends.

In a hollow tree by the bridge, an owl awaits.
The moon is full and white. The stars are out.

Tall elms surround the statue of a nymph
Where old Etonians, festive in Norfolk jackets,

Commemorate D. G. Rossetti with a plaque.
I relish the scene, remembering old Watts-Dunton

Boasting, “Dogs have never bitten me!” that day
We talked about Rossetti. Later, attacks of gout,

That horrible baby that looked like Gosse, a wheelchair
Wobbling on toward Trinity, webs covering my eyes.

But tonight the moon is full, and white. Thus 1904 begins.

Weldon Kees

Weldon Kees, “A Late History” from
The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees
edited by Donald Justice.
Copyright 1962, 1975, by the University of Nebraska Press.
© renewed 2003 by the University of Nebraska Press.

The Disappearing Poet

with thanks to laura for scans!

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