27 November 2006

Richard Wilbur

[from Richard Wilbur's Collected Poems: 1943-2004]

Trolling for Blues

for John and Barbara

As with the dapper terns, or that sole cloud
Which like a slow-evolving embryo
Moils in the sky, we make of this keen fish
Whom fight and beauty have endeared to us
A mirror of our kind. Setting aside

His unreflectiveness, his flings in air,
The aberration of his flocking swerve
To spawning grounds a hundred miles at sea,
How clearly, musing to the engine’s thrum,
Do we conceive him as he waits below:

Blue in the water’s blue, which is the shade
Of thought, and in that scintillating flux
Poised weightless, all attention, yet on edge
To lunge and seize with sure incisiveness,
He is a type of coolest intellect,

Or is so to the mind’s blue eye until
He strikes and runs unseen beneath the rip,
Yanking imagination back and down
Past recognition to the unlit deep
Of the glass sponges, of chiasmodon,

Of the old darkness of Devonian dream,
Phase of a meditation not our own,
That long mĂȘlĂȘe where selves were not, that life
Merciless, painless, sleepless, unaware,
From which, in time, unthinkably we rose.


  1. A wonderful poem about fishing and more...

  2. A subject I'm usually not very interested in, but Wilbur pulls you in. Thanks for posting this. I love his poem "The Writer."