Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Sure Aimer

(to Marianne Moore)

         Time falls,
      Falls into place
   And into stones, turned, ferned,
   Combed by continual waterfalls
   In a thunderdown burlying race,
      A music earned
By luck, as one said of Verlaine: 'He falters with grace.'

         The will,
      Watching that force
   And seeking how it may best wrest
   Life's ring from hammer and anvil,
   Leaps the precipitous course,
      A salmon at rest
In the trance, like a swallow suspended, of purposeful torse,

         That ease,
      Turning the whole
   Starred bestiary of heaven, even
   Past power of Hercules,
   A thirteenth labour of soul,
      To you is given,
Your needle uniting all mind's meandering scroll,

         What proves
      To the hypocrite
   Most hostile?  Vision reveals seals
   Struck and bequeathed by love's
   Authority.  But wit
      Reconciles planets' wheels
To plants, creatures and shells, and makes all fit.

         You take
      Both these, and free
   Time with stern details, logic the world threw, true
   And of archaic make,
   Which you restore and make us see
      In a flash, as through
Precision you humble strength, a David for accuracy.

~ Vernon Watkins (1906-67)


from Fidelities (New Directions, 1969), pp. 35-36