Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Instead, A Poem 

I could talk about the D-Backs offering Richie Sexson arbitration. I could talk about steroids. But what I'm going to do instead is post a poem.

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 soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

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 swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

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

From all that 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 steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.''

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

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

I found out this morning that a friend from my graduate school days passed away last night after a brief illness. She and her husband were far older than I, and (thanks to a blog) we knew of her rapid decline in health, so her death possessed for me neither the shock of my own mortality nor the shock of surprise. But as I read this review of the poet Richard Wilbur's essentially optimistic work in The New Yorker early this morning, I was struck by how Wilbur's optimism and mixture of spirituality and worldliness reflected my feelings toward the life of this couple.

This poem in particular talks about balance in life -- balance between spirituality and worldliness, between optimism and despair, between evil (the thieves) and good (the lovers). It's easy to get so buried in discussions of arbitration rules or what constitutes "cheating" or even, er, Win Shares comparisons between 2003 and 2004 that one forgets the simple joys of watching (or listening to) a baseball game. I had little patience for a steroids debate before; I have much less today.

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