Friday, September 12, 2008


by Robert Lowell (1917-77)
an "imitation" of Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)

The much-hugged rag-doll is oozing cotton from her ruined figure.
Unforgetting September cannot hide its peroxide curls of leaf.
Isn't it time to board up the summer house?
The carpenter's gavel pounds for new and naked roof-ribs.

The moment the sun rises, it disappears.
Last night, the marsh by the swimming-pool shivered with fever;
the last bell-flowers waste under the rheumatic dewdrop,
a dirty lilac stain souses the birches.

The woods are discomforted. The animals
head for the snow-stopped bear holes in the fairy tales;
behind the black park fences, tree trunks and pillars
form columns like a newspaper's death column.

The thinning birchwood has not ceased to water its color --
more and more watery, its once regal shade.
Summer keeps mumbling, "I am only a few months old.
A lifetime of looking back, what shall I do with it?

"I've so many mind-bruises, I should give up playing.
They are like birds in the bushes, mushrooms on the lawn.
Now we have begun to paper our horizon with them
to fog out each other's distance."

Stricken with polio, Summer, le roi soleil,
hears the gods' Homeric laughter from the dignitaries' box --
with the same agony, the country house
stares forward, hallucinated, at the road to the metropolis.