Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Letter Never Sent

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Letter Never Sent

Article excerpt

I always knew in my heart Whitman's mind to be more like my own than any man's living. As he is a very great scoundrel, this is not a pleasant confession.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

Bawd, savage, unbeliever,

my enemy my brother,

sloucher in the picture

I turn from, wanderer

in and out of the game,

your heart in hiding,

your hope flares with the osprey

on serrated wings.

I have learned to say

sassafras, black walnut,

beech, as in your country,

and know as you do

the wren's inscape,

God's mystery stressed,

instressed. You speak

holier than I know

with your signatures

and your handkerchief of the Lord·,

your dogwood, my white-beam,

the cross that belongs

to neither, and is ours.

How you see the self

inside the ash;

your Leaves of Grass

cling like my Sibyl's leaves

blown about her cave,

both as infinite

as the journeywork of the stars.

Keep my hayfields. They are yours,

your runs and flourishes, mine.

Let each in his way

catch the hawk alive in air,

tongue-tied, stammering,

in whatever whirled words

will suffice.

I've memorized six of your poems

and must not go further. …

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