Poetry June 2007

Emeritus Faculties

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He had stepped out into the bare cold yard,
Struck with the suddenness of silence, fearing
That he could yet grow far more hard
    Of hearing;

He shuddered and then turned his gaze aloft,
Hoping for something more but, being
Bathed in a milder light, his eyes felt soft
    Of seeing;

Where the wind shook him, waiting at the rim
    Of darkening there, almost jelling
The winter air within, he was left dim
    Of smelling;

Spicing the faithful pie to no avail
Or carefully and dutifully basting
The hopeful roast likewise, when all is pale
    Of tasting,

He touched his own head from within, to prowl
The precincts of thought; then thought, congealing,
Left him not numb, but only rather foul
    Of feeling,

His begging cup each year remaining full
Of less and less from unforgiving
Nature, though he not quite yet terminal
    Of living.

John Hollander is the author of many books of poetry and criticism, including Picture Window (2003) and The Work of Poetry (1997). He was recently appointed poet laureate of Connecticut.
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