Number Two

“She Walks in Beauty”
Byron told me that.
In many ways he lied.
This wasn’t one of them.
I used to worship Byron and his ilk.
Starry-eyed true believers,
Believers in what – in a past era –
Might have been termed faith.
You read Byron and imagine
The Greece of a Homer who never was,
A land of sunsets and gods and tall men,
Clasped in armor, devoted to their Patroclus,
Hey, likely even sleeping with that Patroclus.
A world of grapes and blood,
In which a man is a man,
Yet twenty years gone desires only return.
Shelley and Wordsworth too.
You live long enough on these blank spaces
You internalize certain things.
Ozymandias, for example.
You take in the nothing in your eyes
You begin to understand emptiness –
Whether it’s inside you or not.
You don’t gain an appreciation for –
No appreciation isn’t quite right
You look in yourself and – despair
Yes, despair; appropriately
It’s time translated into geography
Green everywhere, as far as the eye can see.
Infinity in all directions,
Not even ten minutes from civilization.
Lone and level sands.
That takes care of Shelley.
Wordsworth’s important here as well.
I’ve not yet been to Tintern Abbey,
But I know what the bloke saw.
Sitting on a hill a few miles above the place,
He had a glimpse of something far greater
Or maybe far purer than he would ever be.
Maybe confronted with endlessness
He saw Dorothy, or Dora, or
I don’t know – God?
Don’t take my word on the God part
I’m a veteran unbeliever
But a firm believer in whatever we call the Infinite.
Shelley looked and despaired
Byron looked and was caught
Wordsworth looked and was transfixed.
I look and don’t know
I, of far less genius than those three
Have stood at all points
Yet there is marrow in these bones
There is blood
There is time endlessly
Not city time
But time of the prairie
Of the land and those who came before
Germans and Scandinavians like me
And those who loved this land
Long before my forebears took breath.
Of course this is their land.
It’s my land.
Byron’s, Shelley’s, and Wordsworth’s too.
It’s infinite, this land.
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~ by Benji on 13 November 2011.

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