After the Last Bulletins

By Richard Wilbur b. 1921 Richard Wilbur
After the last bulletins the windows darken   
And the whole city founders readily and deep,   
Sliding on all its pillows
To the thronged Atlantis of personal sleep,

And the wind rises. The wind rises and bowls   
The day’s litter of news in the alleys. Trash   
Tears itself on the railings,
Soars and falls with a soft crash,

Tumbles and soars again. Unruly flights   
Scamper the park, and taking a statue for dead   
Strike at the positive eyes,
Batter and flap the stolid head

And scratch the noble name. In empty lots   
Our journals spiral in a fierce noyade   
Of all we thought to think,
Or caught in corners cramp and wad

And twist our words. And some from gutters flail   
Their tatters at the tired patrolman’s feet,
Like all that fisted snow
That cried beside his long retreat

Damn you! damn you! to the emperor’s horse’s heels.   
Oh none too soon through the air white and dry   
Will the clear announcer’s voice
Beat like a dove, and you and I

From the heart’s anarch and responsible town   
Return by subway-mouth to life again,   
Bearing the morning papers,
And cross the park where saintlike men,

White and absorbed, with stick and bag remove   
The litter of the night, and footsteps rouse   
With confident morning sound
The songbirds in the public boughs.

Richard Wilbur, “After the Last Bulletins” 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 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004)

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Poet Richard Wilbur b. 1921

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Animals, Nature

 Richard  Wilbur

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Animals, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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