Contents | November 2002

More on poetry from The Atlantic Monthly.

Also by Richard Wilbur:
The Disappearing Alphabet (1997)
Bone Key (1995)
C Minor (1974)
She (1958)
The Atlantic Monthly | November 2002
Sir David Brewster's Toy

by Richard Wilbur
audioear pictureHear the author read this poem (in RealAudio)

In this tube you see
At the far end a strew of
Colored-glass debris—

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.

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Richard Wilbur was the poet laureate of the United States in 1987. His most recent book is Mayflies (2000).

Copyright © 2002 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; November 2002; Sir David Brewster's Toy; Volume 290, No. 4; 98.