[from Jon Anderson's The Milky Way: Poems 1967-1982]
I know there is a worm in the human heart,
In its wake such emptiness as sleep should require.
Toward dawn, there was an undirected light the color of steel;
The aspens, thin, vaguely parallel strips of slate,
Blew across each other in that light.
I went out
Having all night suffered in my confusion, &
Was quieted by this.
But the earth
Vegetable rock or water that had been our salvation
Is mostly passed now, into the keeping of John Clare,
whose poetry simplified us—we owe the world ourselves—
Who, dead or sleeping, now reads the detail leaf & stone
Passing, until it will finally be memorized & done.
I know that the heart can be hard, & from this
Misgiving about itself, will make a man merciless.
I know that John Clare’s madness nature could not straighten.
If there is a worm in the heart, & chamber it has bitten out,
I will protect that emptiness until it is large enough.
In it will be a light the color of steel
& landscape, into which the traveler might set out.