The Copper Beech

By Daryl Hine 1936–2012 Daryl Hine
It is half past ten in Stonington.
The trees droop apprehensive of the heat
And the sky has turned that pale suspicious colour   
That means that it cannot support more light.   
Here on the terrace I and a companion
Each pretends to read. The papers say
That it is 90 in New York today.

Across the street work is going forward
On the abominable house that once I fancied,
Half, might be mine, and which was in fact the home   
Of the anonymous couple I used to hear
At night arguing in their unhappy bedroom.
Now they are throwing out another wing
And the site of overlooked love is changed beyond recognition.

What will the day, what will the summer bring?   
Psychic storms or calm productive doldrums?   
Our neighbours are no saner than ourselves.
Perhaps it is time to give the Stones a ring
Or to complain of the view from the gallery tower   
Falling like a shadow across the calm veranda
Rich with malice and the threat of accidental meeting.

This is not a house but a collection
(The largest in private hands?) of sacred objects,
A spiritual boutique where anyone,
Even the wrecker who had come to spoil,
May find himself spending more than he expected
On something he cannot quite identify.
Here the little horrors become the household gods.

For the work of love requires a rule of thumb,   
Not no laws in particular but its own
Whose pseudonym, at least here and now, is pleasure:   
The morning wasted in work and misquotation,   
A light but leisurely lunch, then reading
Walking or just watching the sun all afternoon   
Till, hungry, we draw to evening and ombre.

Who are we to thank for all of this?
The greatest favours are conferred in absence   
Sometimes, as a syllable gives comfort   
Dependent on the time and place and person.   
When pleasure and reality occur
Is there room for extra contemplation   
Or the lyrical promenade? It is enough

To know (and this is surely recognition)
That the world is spherical and perfect.
Now I wish to introduce the copper beech
We saw on our walk, English and native here as I am,   
Whose shade is not the green of contemplation   
But the imagination’s rich metallic colour
Wherein, under libido, we live.

Daryl Hine, “The Copper Beech” from Minutes (New York: Atheneum Publishers, 1968). Copyright © 1968 by Daryl Hine. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Minutes: Poems (1968)

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Poet Daryl Hine 1936–2012

POET’S REGION Canada

Subjects Love, Relationships, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

 Daryl  Hine

Biography

Poet, editor, and translator Daryl Hine was born in 1936 in British Columbia and grew up in New Westminster. His mother’s death while he was still a teenager had a profound influence on him. He studied Classics and philosophy at McGill University, and he earned his PhD in comparative literature from the University of Chicago. The editor of Poetry from 1968-78, Hine was also a highly regarded translator of Classical writers such . . .

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SUBJECT Love, Relationships, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION Canada

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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