For C.

By Richard Wilbur b. 1921 Richard Wilbur
After the clash of elevator gates
And the long sinking, she emerges where,
A slight thing in the morning’s crosstown glare,   
She looks up toward the window where he waits,   
Then in a fleeting taxi joins the rest
Of the huge traffic bound forever west.

On such grand scale do lovers say good-bye—
Even this other pair whose high romance   
Had only the duration of a dance,
And who, now taking leave with stricken eye,   
See each in each a whole new life forgone.
For them, above the darkling clubhouse lawn,

Bright Perseids flash and crumble; while for these   
Who part now on the dock, weighed down by grief   
And baggage, yet with something like relief,   
It takes three thousand miles of knitting seas   
To cancel out their crossing, and unmake
The amorous rough and tumble of their wake.

We are denied, my love, their fine tristesse   
And bittersweet regrets, and cannot share   
The frequent vistas of their large despair,   
Where love and all are swept to nothingness;   
Still, there’s a certain scope in that long love   
Which constant spirits are the keepers of,

And which, though taken to be tame and staid,   
Is a wild sostenuto of the heart,
A passion joined to courtesy and art
Which has the quality of something made,   
Like a good fiddle, like the rose’s scent,
Like a rose window or the firmament.

Richard Wilbur, “For C.” from Collected Poems 1943-2004. Copyright © 2004 by Richard Wilbur. Reprinted with the permission of Harcourt, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: Collected Poems 1943-2004 (2004)

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Poet Richard Wilbur b. 1921

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Love, Separation & Divorce, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Living, Relationships, Nature

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 Richard  Wilbur


Richard Wilbur “is a poet for all of us, whose elegant words brim with wit and paradox,” announced Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin when the poet succeeded Robert Penn Warren to become the second poet laureate of the United States. Wilbur won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his collection Things of This World: Poems in 1957 and a second Pulitzer for New and Collected Poems. He has won the Wallace Stevens . . .

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SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Love, Separation & Divorce, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Living, Relationships, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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