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More poems by Jack GilbertJack Gilbert | Print this page.Print | View and Write CommentsComments | Books by Jack GilbertBooks by Jack Gilbert

The Abnormal Is Not Courage

Jack Gilbert

The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German 
Tanks on horses.  Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers, 
A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace. 
And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question 
The bravery. Say it's not courage. Call it a passion. 
Would say courage isn't that. Not at its best. 
It was impossib1e, and with form. They rode in sunlight, 
Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal. 
Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches. 
The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment. 
It is too near the whore's heart: the bounty of impulse, 
And the failure to sustain even small kindness. 
Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being. 
Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality. 
Accomplishment.  The even loyalty.  But fresh. 
Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope. 
The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo. 
The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding. 
Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage, 
Not the month's rapture.  Not the exception.  The beauty 
That is of many days. Steady and clear. 
It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment. 

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Added: 25 Mar 2002 | Last Read: 2 Mar 2021 9:55 PM | Viewed: 16846 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/3732/ | Viewed on 2 March 2021.
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