The Beautiful Changes/ In such kind ways

Most of you have likely heard by now that Richard Wilbur passed away yesterday. Wilbur is a staple of the Rome semester, and every student is assigned a poem to analyze and present. I’m not a Lit major by any means, and I’ll be the first to admit that poetry is not my forte. Still, there is such a beauty in the language that Wilbur uses that it resonates.

If you run into a quoted Wilbur in the next few days, it’s likely to be ‘The Beautiful Changes’ or ‘Love Calls us to the Things of this World.’ Over the course of the last day, my Facebook feed has flooded with fellow alums posting their favorite poem or their Rome poem. Many of Wilbur’s works are on the Poetry Foundation’s website, so I thought I’d share my Rome poem with you.

Ceremony

A striped blouse in a clearing by Bazille
Is, you may say, a patroness of boughs
Too queenly kind toward nature to be kin.
But ceremony never did conceal,
Save to the silly eye, which all allows,
How much we are the woods we wander in.
Let her be some Sabrina fresh from stream,
Lucent as shallows slowed by wading sun,
Bedded on fern, the flowers’ cynosure:
Then nymph and wood must nod and strive to dream
That she is airy earth, the trees, undone,
Must ape her languor natural and pure.
Ho-hum. I am for wit and wakefulness,
And love this feigning lady by Bazille.
What’s lightly hid is deepest understood,
And when with social smile and formal dress
She teaches leaves to curtsey and quadrille,
I think there are most tigers in the wood.
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