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Poem (Remember midsummer: the fragrance of box)

Delmore Schwartz

Remember midsummer: the fragrance of box, of white
    roses
And of phlox. And upon a honeysuckle branch 
Three snails hanging with infinite delicacy
-- Clinging like tendril, flake and thread, as self-tormented
And self-delighted as any ballerina,
                just as in the orchard,
Near the apple trees, in the over-grown grasses
Drunken wasps clung to over-ripe pears
Which had fallen: swollen and disfigured.
For now it is wholly autumn: in the late
Afternoon as I walked toward the ridge where the hills
    begin,
There is a whir, a thrashing in the bush, and a startled
    pheasant, flying out and up,
Suddenly astonished me, breaking the waking dream.

Last night
Snatches of sleep, streaked by dreams and half dreams
- So that, aloft in the dim sky, for almost an hour,
A sausage balloon - chalk-white and lifeless looking--
    floated motionless
Until, at midnight, I went to New Bedlam and saw what I
    feared
                the most - I heard nothing, but it
                had all happened several times elsewhere.

Now, in the cold glittering morning, shining at the
    window,
The pears hang, yellowed and over-ripe, sodden brown in
                erratic places, all bunched and dangling,
Like a small choir of bagpipes, silent and waiting. And I
    rise now,
Go to the window and gaze at the fallen or falling country
-- And see! -- the fields are pencilled light brown 
                or are the dark brownness of the last autumn
-- So much has shrunken to straight brown lines, thin as
    the
                bare thin trees,
Save where the cornstalks, white bones of the lost forever dead,
Shrivelled and fallen, but shrill-voiced when the wind
    whistles,
Are scattered like the long abandoned hopes and ambitions 
Of an adolescence which, for a very long time, has been
    merely
A recurrent target and taunt of the inescapable mockery of
    memory.

Added: 25 Mar 2002 | Last Read: 15 Jul 2018 9:17 PM | Viewed: 3545 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/3941/ | Viewed on 15 July 2018.
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