Minuscule Things

By William Matthews 1942–1997 William Matthews
There’s a crack in this glass so fine we can’t see it,   
and in the blue eye of the candleflame’s needle   
there’s a dark fleck, a speck of imperfection

that could contain, like a microchip, an epic
treatise on beauty, except it’s in the eye of the beheld.   
And at the base of our glass there’s nothing

so big as a tiny puddle, but an ooze, a viscous   
patina like liquefied tarnish. It’s like a text
so short it consists only of the author’s signature,

which has to stand, like the future, for what might   
have been: a novel, let’s say, thick with ambiguous life.   
Its hero forgets his goal as he nears it, so that it’s

like rain evaporating in the very sight of parched   
Saharans on the desert floor. There, by chance, he meets   
a thirsty and beautiful woman. What a small world!

William Matthews, “Minuscule Things” from Selected Poems and Translations, 1969-1991. Copyright © 1992 by William Matthews. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Source: Selected Poems and Translations 1969-1991 (1992)

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Poet William Matthews 1942–1997

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Architecture & Design, Travels & Journeys, Activities, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 William  Matthews

Biography

William Matthews's poetry has earned him a reputation as a master of well-turned phrases, wise sayings, and rich metaphors. Much of Matthews's poetry explores the themes of life cycles, the passage of time, and the nature of human consciousness. In another type of poem, he focuses on his particular enthusiasms: jazz music, basketball, and his children. His early writing was free-form and epigrammatic. As his career has . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Architecture & Design, Travels & Journeys, Activities, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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