Aesthetic Realism Online Library Poetry by Eli Siegel


 
Afternoon

Hear Mr. Bulwer as he talks.
You might think he was so cheerful.
That smile took him ages to get
And he uses it this minute.
That tone of voice, so managed,
Smooths the milieu of the afternoon.
He talks as a brook ripples,
As a snake glides,
As a leaf smooths itself out,
As a sheet of fabric decides to be flat;
Yet there's a mystery of a heart,
Connected irremediably with Mr. Bulwer.
The darkness of it goes back for years;
It is deeper than abysses
However noteworthily frightening.
It is allied to the condors of chosen, dim mountaintops,
And ever so lofty twilight glooms.
It is a heart that in the very midst of the unseen
(Even as it is in him)
Goes suddenly wide,
Topples, rises, widens again,
And is still widening.
Happy, happy Mr. Bulwer - 
That you are more than you show,
More than you talk,
More than your tone.
Happy, happy Mr. Bulwer
That
You are more than you chose to see.
Go, be ashamed in your happiness,
Go revel in your subterranean shame,
Now a space of glory before your eyes,
In the all-permitting, delicately forbidding
Afternoon.


From Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems
© 1957 by Eli Siegel

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