Also by Richard Wilbur:
The Proof (1964)
A Black Birch in Winter (1974)
C Minor (1974)*
A Shallot (1975)
Bone Key (1995)*
The Disappearing Alphabet (1997)*
Sir David Brewster's Toy (2002)*
Some Words Inside of Words (2004)*
*with audio of Richard Wilbur reading the poem
A Certain Logic: an interview with Richard Wilbur
by Peter Davison (Sept. 9, 1999)
Now I am surer where they were going.
The brakie loping the tops of the moving freight,
The beautiful girls in their outboard, waving to someone
As the stern dug in and the wake pleated the water.
The uniformed children led by a nun
Through the terminal's uproar, the clew-drawn scholar descending
The cast-iron stair of the stacks, shuffling his papers,
The Indians, two to a blanket, passing in darkness,
Also the German prisoner switching
His dusty neck as the truck backfired and started—
Of all these noted in stride and detained in memory
I now know better that they were going to die,
Since you, who sustained the civil tongue
In a scattering time, and were poet of all our cities,
Have for all your clever difference quietly left us,
As we might have known that you would, by that common door.
Copyright © 1979 The Atlantic Monthly; October 1979; For W. H. Auden; Volume 244, No. 4; page 98.