One Kind of Colloquy

HERE in the garden, strolling slowly
With a young poet who is wholly
Rapt in his own imagination,
I leave to him the conversation,
Knowing that through his golden mist
I’d loom, a sad materialist.
How creature comforts come to be
A substitute for ecstasy!
Wordsworth, romantic though he was,
Confessed how revelations pass;
And Henry Vaughan, light’s own true son,
Observed the same phenomenon.
Blake moved in radiance to the end
As Catherine saw his soul ascend
Clapping its hands; and Shakespeare, after
Storming the globe’s exlremest rafter,
Vanished in more tempestuous magic
Beyond the comic or the tragic.
But, on the whole, the poets mostly,
Becoming less remote and ghostly,
Repeat with stresses more intense
Our general experience,
When dithyrambic dreams attract
Less than the fantasies of fact.
But why should I anticipate
This younger poet’s future state?
He speaks of love that moves the stars,
Of revolution ending wars,
Abstractions realer than the real,
And, clear as crystal, the Ideal.
His nostrils quiver in response
To ethers that I savored once;
His thoughts like angels climb the rungs
Of ladders toward the gift of tongues.
How accurately he can spell
The name of the Ineffable!
Not yet acknowledging the birth
Of beauty from component earth,
He floats through flowers that yesterday
Were treated with manure and spray,
And sees them vaguely as pale gems
Suspended without roots or stems.
All air and fire, his darting sense
Spurns the two coarser elements—
Water, from which we first were born.
And earth, to which wo all return.
Nostalgic for such vision, ah
How can I say, “J’ai vu tout ça“?
Better for him to keep the rapture
That I have known but can’t recapture;
Better for me my narrower joy
That views of distance would destroy.
Our difference breeds harmoniousness;
His talk attunes my silences.
On this bright lawn, this flowering slope,
Keats could have bared his soul to Pope,
And wit relived the age of hope.