Evening Poetry, November 17

*This post contains affiliate links: If you click through and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small compensation. This helps with the costs of running an ad-free blog. Thank you!


by Richard Wilbur

What was her beauty in our first estate
When Adam’s will was whole, and the least thing
Appeared the gift and creature of his king,
How should we guess? Resemblance had to wait

For separation, and in such a place
She so partook of water, light, and trees
As not to look like any of these.
He woke and gazed into her naked face.

But then she changed, and coming down amid
The flocks of Abel and the fields of Cain,
Clothed in their wish, her Eden graces hid,
A shape of plenty with a mop of grain,

She broke upon the world, in time took on
The look of every labor and its fruits.
Columnar in a robe of pleated lawn
She cupped her patient hand for attributes,

Was radiant captive of the farthest tower
And shed her honor on the fields of war,
Walked in her garden at the evening hour,
Her shadow like a dark ogival door,

Breasted the seas for all the westward ships
And, come to virgin country, changed again—
A moonlike being truest in eclipse
And subject goddess of the dreams of men.

Tree, temple, valley, prow, gazelle, machine,
More named and nameless than the morning star,
Lovely in every shape, in all unseen,
We dare not wish to find you as you are,

Whose apparition, biding time until
Desire decay and bring the latter age,
Shall flourish in the ruins of our will
And deck the broken stones like saxifrage.

You can find this poem in Collected Poems: 1943-2004.

Evening Poetry, May 28


by Richard Wilbur

A word sticks in the wind’s throat;

A wind-launch drifts in the swells of the rye;

Sometimes, in broad silence,

The hanging apples distil their darkness.

You, in a green dress, calling, and with brown hair,

Who comes by the field-path now, whose name I say

Softly, forgive me love if also I call you

Wind’s word, apple-heart, haven of grasses.

You can find this poem in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.

Evening Poetry, May 22

Wyeth’s Milk Cans

by Richard Wilbur

Beyond them, hill and field

Harden, and summer’s easy

Wheel-ruts lie congealed.

What if these two bells tolled?

They’d make the bark-splintering

Music of pure cold.

You can find this poem in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.

Evening Poetry, May 14


by Richard Wilbur

I read how Quixote in his random ride

Came to a crossing once, and lest he lose

the purity of chance, would not decide

Whither to fare, but wished his horse to choose.

For glory lay wherever he might turn.

His head was light with pride, his horse’s shoes

Were heavy, and he headed for the barn.

You can find this in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.

Evening Poetry, May 9

In Trackless Woods

by Richard Wilbur

In trackless woods, it puzzled me to find

Four great rock maples seemingly aligned,

As if they had been set out in a row

Before some house a century ago,

To edge the property and lend some shade,

I looked to see if ancient wheels had made

Old ruts to which the trees ran parallel,

But there were none, so far as I could tell–

There’d been no roadway. Nor could I find the square

Depression of a cellar anywhere,

And so I tramped on further, to survey

Amazing patterns in a hornbeam spray

Or spirals in a pine cone, under trees

Not subject to our stiff geometries.

You can find this poem in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.