Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard' (Charles Wright)

"After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard" 
(Charles Wright)

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
                                         looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird,
                       I flit from one thing to the next.
What do I have to look forward to at fifty-four?
Tomorrow is dark.
                  Day-after-tomorrow is darker still.

The sky dogs are whimpering.
Fireflies are dragging the hush of evening
                                           up from the damp grass.
Into the world's tumult, into the chaos of every day,
Go quietly, quietly.

"After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard" by Charles Wright originally appeared in the collection Chickamauga [1995]. Charles Wright was educated at Davidson College; his first book of poems, The Grave of the Right Hand, was published in 1970. His most recent collection, Caribou, was published this year. In a 1989 Paris Review interview he was asked about his early poetry written in the Army while stationed in Italy. Wright commented:  "If one has to write poorly before one can write well—which I think is true—and if that can be extended to read that one has to write deplorably before one can write extraordinarily well, then I definitely started in the right place for the latter. I suppose it’s nostalgia that makes me keep them. That and the sense of duty that one shouldn’t destroy one’s stunted darlings. Keep them out of sight, yes, but don’t abuse them. Rather like the retarded greataunt in the attic, that mainstay of Southern gothic." He is the current Poet Laureate of the United States.

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