Difference

By Stephen Vincent Benét 1898–1943 Stephen Vincent Benet
My mind’s a map. A mad sea-captain drew it   
Under a flowing moon until he knew it;
Winds with brass trumpets, puffy-cheeked as jugs,   
And states bright-patterned like Arabian rugs.   
“Here there be tygers.” “Here we buried Jim.”   
Here is the strait where eyeless fishes swim   
About their buried idol, drowned so cold   
He weeps away his eyes in salt and gold.   
A country like the dark side of the moon,   
A cider-apple country, harsh and boon,   
A country savage as a chestnut-rind,
A land of hungry sorcerers.
                                              Your mind?

—Your mind is water through an April night,
A cherry-branch, plume-feathery with its white,   
A lavender as fragrant as your words,   
A room where Peace and Honor talk like birds,   
Sewing bright coins upon the tragic cloth   
Of heavy Fate, and Mockery, like a moth,   
Flutters and beats about those lovely things.   
You are the soul, enchanted with its wings,   
The single voice that raises up the dead   
To shake the pride of angels.
                                                 I have said.

Source: Selected Works of Stephen Vincent Benét (Henry Holt & Co., 1942)

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Poet Stephen Vincent Benét 1898–1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Living, The Mind

 Stephen Vincent Benét

Biography

Between the years 1928 and 1943, Stephen Vincent Benét was one of the best-known living American poets, more widely read than Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, or Wallace Stevens and as well respected in book review columns. He was a rarity among twentieth-century authors, a poet whose books sold in the tens of thousands and who was honored in the poetry workshops and lecture halls of prestigious universities. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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