Balm in Gilead

By Grace Schulman b. 1935 Grace Schulman
“Is there no balm in Gilead?” So cries   
dour Jeremiah in granite tones.   
“There is a balm in Gilead,” replies   
a Negro spiritual. The baritone

who chants it, leaning forward on the platform,   
looks up, not knowing his voice is a rainstorm   
that rinses air to reveal earth’s surprises.
Today, the summer gone, four monarch butterflies,

their breed’s survivors, sucked a flower’s last blooms,   
opened their wings, orange-and-black stained glass,   
and printed on the sky in zigzag lines,
watch bright things rise: winter moons, the white undersides   
of a California condor, once thought doomed,
now flapping wide like the first bird from ashes.

Grace Schulman, “Balm in Gilead” from Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Grace Schulman. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved,

Source: Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002)

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Poet Grace Schulman b. 1935

Subjects Nature, Religion

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Grace  Schulman


Poet and editor Grace Schulman was born in 1935 in New York City, studying at Bard College, American University, and New York University, where she earned her PhD. She is distinguished professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY, and served as the poetry editor of the Nation from 1972 to 2006. She also directed the 92nd Street Y Poetry Center from 1973 to 1985. She has published six collections of poetry, including Days of . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Religion

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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