Audio: Hear the author read this poem. (1:09)
In this tube you see At the far end a strew of
Which, however, grows Upon reflection to an
Intricate pied rose,
Flushed with sun, that might, Set in some cathedral's wall,
Paraphrase the light.
Now, at the least shake, The many colors jumble
And abruptly make
The rose rearrange, Adding to form and splendor
The release of change.
Rattle it afresh And see its coruscating
Flinders quickly mesh,
Fashioning once more A fine sixfold gaudiness
Never seen before.
Many prophets claim That Heaven's joys, though endless,
Are not twice the same;
This kaleidoscope Can, in that connection, give
Exercise in hope.
Richard Wilbur is the author of many books of poetry and translation, including Collected Poems 1943-2004; Mayflies: New Poems and Translations (2000); and New and Collected Poems (1988), which won the Pulitzer Prize. He has also published numerous translations of the French dramatists Moliere and Racine as well as several volumes of children's verse. He lives in Cummington, Massachusetts.