the garden of delight

By Lucille Clifton 1936–2010 Lucille Clifton
for some
it is stone
bare smooth   
as a buttock   
into the crevasse
of the world

for some
it is extravagant
water   mouths wide   
washing together   
forever   for some   
it is fire
for some air

and for some
certain only of the syllables   
it is the element they
search their lives for


for them   
it is a test

Lucille Clifton, “the garden of delight” from Quilting: Poems 1987-1990. Copyright © 1991 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd.,

Source: Blessing the Boats (2000)

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Poet Lucille Clifton 1936–2010

Subjects Faith & Doubt, Religion, Christianity, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lucille  Clifton


A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton's work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life. Awarding the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007, the judges remarked that “One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton’s poems—it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don’t.” In addition to the . . .

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SUBJECT Faith & Doubt, Religion, Christianity, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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