Nemerov, Howard (1920-)
I Invocation Wasp, climbing the window pane and falling back on the sill -- What buzz in the brain And tremor of the will, What climbing anger you excite Where my images brim and spill In failures of the full light. II Lucilius Lucilius the poet has informed me, Defending his somewhat pedantic songs, That "Memory is the Mother of the Muses." May he continue making love to the mother. III An Old Story They gathered shouting crowds along the road To praise His Majesty's satin and cloth-of-gold, But "Naked! Naked!" the children cried. Now when the gaudy clothes ride down the street No child is found sufficiently indiscreet To whisper "No Majesty's inside." IV Mythological Beast Four-footed, silent, resilient, feathered, It waits by daylight, standing alert and tethered. Come night, it bears me through the jungle of The images, where are victims enough. But this fat beast, responsive to my weight, I know for a wild hunter grown to hate Patiently the rider in his high seat, Blind rider who it will pluck down and eat. V The Hunt Goes By The dogs ran in the woods today, Their note sounded from far away. Tonight the shallow snowfall clears The dogs' track and the deer's. VI Political Reflexion loquitur the sparrow in the zoo. No bars are set too close, no mesh too fine To keep me from the eagle and the lion, Whom keepers feed that I may freely dine. This goes to show that if you have the wit To be small, common, cute, and live on shit, Though the cage fret kings, you may make free with it. VII A Spiral Shell A twist along the spine begins the form And hides itself inside a twisted house Which turns once wide and slow, then speeds to close Whirled on a point. Divine and crippled norm, O Vulcan of the secret forging flame! A hollow life is beautiful with shame. VIII April Today was a day of cold spring showers Between bouts of sun; the fine, literary weather We used to have so often, Some Boris or other bidding farewell To Nastasya; Lisbeth, Priscilla, Jane hastening back to the vicarage Lest their taffeta crumple; a young man and a bicycle Posed on the puddled lane. these days are rare lately, And I remember college girls who declared They loved to walk bare-headed in the rain. IX Absent-minded Professor This lonely figure of not much fun Strayed out of the folklore fifteen years ago Forever. Now on an autumn afternoon, While the leaves drift past the office window, His bright replacement, present-minded, stays At the desk correcting papers, nor ever grieves For the silly scholar of the bad old days, Who'd burn the papers and correct the leaves.