28 February 2007

Donald Justice

[from Donald Justice’s Collected Poems]

“There is a gold light in certain old paintings”

There is a gold light in certain old paintings
That represents a diffusion of sunlight.
It is like happiness, when we are happy.
It comes from everywhere and from nowhere at once, this light,
        And the poor soldiers sprawled at the foot of the cross
        Share in its charity equally with the cross.

Orpheus hesitated beside the black river.
With so much to look forward to he looked back.
We think he sang then, but the song is lost.
        I say the song went this way: O prolong
        Now the sorrow if that is all there is to prolong.

The world is very dusty, uncle. Let us work.
One day the sickness shall pass from the earth for good.
The orchard will bloom; someone will play the guitar.
Our work will be seen as strong and clean and good.
        And all that we suffered through having existed
        Shall be forgotten as though it had never existed.

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