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Richard Wilbur

What is the opposite of two? A lonely me, a lonely you.

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Having Misidentified a Wild-Flower

A thrush, because I'd been wrong,
Burst rightly into song
In a world not vague, not lonely,
Not governed by me only.

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To this congress the poet speaks not of peculiar and personal things, but of what in himself is most common, most anonymous, most fundamental, most true of all men.

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Epistemology

I.
Kick at the rock, Sam Johnson, break your bones:
But cloudy, cloudy is the stuff of stones.

II.
We milk the cow of the world, and as we do
We whisper in her ear, 'You are not true.'

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Exeunt

Piecemeal the summer dies;
At the field's edge a daisy lives alone;
A last shawl of burning lies
On a gray field-stone.

All cries are thin and terse;
The field has droned the summer's final mass;
A cricket like a dwindled hearse
Crawls from the dry grass.

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It is true that the poet does not directly address his neighbors; but he does address a great congress of persons who dwell at the back of his mind, a congress of all those who have taught him and whom he has admired; they constitute his ideal audience and his better self.

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Riddle

Where far in forest I am laid,
In a place ringed around by stones,
Look for no melancholy shade,
And have no thoughts of buried bones;
For I am bodiless and bright,
And fill this glade with sudden glow;
The leaves are washed in under-light;
Shade lies upon the boughs like snow.

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To the Etruscan Poets

Dream fluently, still brothers, who when young
Took with your mother's milk the mother tongue,

In which pure matrix, joining world and mind,
You strove to leave some line of verse behind

Like still fresh tracks across a field of snow,
Not reckoning that all could melt and go.

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Parable

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 turned the fable.
His head was light with pride, his horse's shoes

Were heavy, and he headed for the stable.

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The Riddle

Shall I love God for causing me to be?
I was mere utterance; shall these words love me?

Yet when I caused His work to jar and stammer,
And one free subject loosened all His grammar,

I love Him that He did not in a rage
Once and forever rule me off the page,

But, thinking I might come to please Him yet,
Crossed out 'delete' and wrote His patient 'stet'.

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Richard Wilbur
Richard Wilbur