Friday, April 25, 2008

Poetry Friday: Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

Richard Wilbur published his first poem when he was 8 years old. He went on to translate Moliere and Racine, write lyrics musicals, win the Pulitzer Prize, and become the U.S. Poet Laureate. If you've never been inspired by laundry, now's your chance.

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

by Richard Wilbur

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,

And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul

Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple

As false dawn.

Outside the open window

The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,

Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.

Now they are rising together in calm swells

Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear

With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying

The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving

And staying like white water; and now of a sudden

They swoon down into so rapt a quiet

That nobody seems to be there.

The soul shrinks

From all that it is about to remember,

From the punctual rape of every bless├Ęd day,

And cries,

“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,

Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam

And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

Yet, as the sun acknowledges

With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,

The soul descends once more in bitter love

To accept the waking body, saying now

In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

“Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;

Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;

Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,

And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating

Of dark habits,

keeping their difficult balance.”

The Poetry Friday roundup is at The Miss Rumphius Effect


  1. "moving

    And staying like white water;"

    Perfect! Lovely poem that just fits my mood. Thanks.

  2. I love Wilbur, and love this poem.

  3. can someone pleasee help me as to what this poem is talking about?