Thursday, December 02, 2004

Poet Mona Van Duyn Dies

Sad news. The poet Mona Van Duyn died today – a real loss to American letters.

THE GARDENER TO HIS GOD

I pray that the great world’s flowering stay as it is,
and larkspur and snapdragon keep to their ordinary size,
and bleedingheart hang in its old way, and the Judas tree
stand well below the oak, and old oaks color the fall sky.
For the myrtle to keep underfoot, and no rose
to send up a swollen face, I pray simply.

There is no disorder in the heart's. But if love goes leaking
outward, if shrubs take up its monstrous stalking,
all greenery is spurred, the snapping lips are overgrown,
and over oaks red hearts hang like the sun.
Deliver us from its giant gardening, from walking
all over the earth with no rest for its disproportion.

Let all flowers turn to stone before ever they begin to share
love's spaciousness, and faster, stronger, larger
grow from a sweet thought, before any daisy
turns under love's gibberellic wish, to the day's eye.
Let all blooms take shape from cold laws, down from a cold air
let come their small grace or measurable majesty.

For in every place but love the imagination lies
in its limits. Even poems draw back from images
of that one country, on top of whose lunatic stemming
whoever finds himself there must sway and cling
until the high cold God takes pity, and it all dies
down, down into the great world's flowering.

--Mona Van Duyn, If It Be Not I: Collected Poems 1959-1982 (Knopf, p. 77)

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