Friday, June 13, 2008


You know how some people drink to ease the pain? Here's my drug of choice tonight.
“Variations on a Fragment by Trumbull Stickney
by John Hollander

I hear a river thro’ the valley wander
Whose water runs, the song alone remaining.
A rainbow stands and summer passes under,

Flowing like silence in the light of wonder.
In the near distances it is still raining
Where now the valley fills again with thunder,

Where now the river in her wide meander,
Losing at each loop what she had been gaining,
Moves into what one might as well call yonder.

The way of the dark water is to ponder
The way the light sings as of something waning.
The far-off waterfall can sound asunder.

Stillness of distances, as if in blunder,
Tumbling over the rim of all explaining.
Water proves nothing, but can only maunder.

Shadows show nothing, but can only launder
The lovely land that sunset had been staining,
Long fields of which the falling light grows fonder.

Here summer stands while all its songs pass under,
A riverbank still time runs by, remaining.
I will remember rainbows as I wander.
Like when your blood is drawn at the doctor's office, and the technician encourages you to look at the picture across the room and tells you a story about a lovely boat trip so you don't focus on the sharpened steel piercing your skin, puncturing your vein, and sucking out your life force. The pain is still there, but the distraction makes it less noticeable.

I've loved this poem for years. Its complexity catches me up for long hours. It's easy to get lost in it. Just what I need.

No comments: