Sapphics Against Anger

By Timothy Steele b. 1948 Timothy Steele
Angered, may I be near a glass of water;
May my first impulse be to think of Silence,
Its deities (who are they? do, in fact, they
               Exist? etc.).

May I recall what Aristotle says of
The subject: to give vent to rage is not to
Release it but to be increasingly prone
               To its incursions.

May I imagine being in the Inferno,
Hearing it asked: “Virgilio mio, who’s
That sulking with Achilles there?” and hearing
               Virgil say: “Dante,

That fellow, at the slightest provocation,
Slammed phone receivers down, and waved his arms like
A madman. What Attila did to Europe,
               What Genghis Khan did

To Asia, that poor dope did to his marriage.”
May I, that is, put learning to good purpose,
Mindful that melancholy is a sin, though
               Stylish at present.

Better than rage is the post-dinner quiet,
The sink’s warm turbulence, the streaming platters,
The suds rehearsing down the drain in spirals
               In the last rinsing.

For what is, after all, the good life save that
Conducted thoughtfully, and what is passion
If not the holiest of powers, sustaining
               Only if mastered.

Timothy Steele, “Sapphics Against Anger” from Sapphics and Uncertainties: Poems 1970-1986. Copyright � 1986, 1995 by Timothy Steele. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press, www.uapress.com.

Source: Sapphics Against Anger and Other Poems (1986)

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Poet Timothy Steele b. 1948

Subjects Poetry & Poets, Living, Marriage & Companionship, Home Life, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Philosophy

Occasions Anniversary

Poetic Terms Syllabic

 Timothy  Steele

Biography

Timothy Steele was born in 1948 in Burlington, Vermont, and holds degrees from Stanford University and Brandeis University, where he studied with the poet J.V. Cunningham. The influence of formal masters like Cunningham and Yvor Winters, a force at Stanford for much of the early 20th century, is apparent in Steele’s poetry, which is notable for its allegiance to traditional forms, meters, and rhyme schemes. Though Steele has . . .

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SUBJECT Poetry & Poets, Living, Marriage & Companionship, Home Life, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Philosophy

Poetic Terms Syllabic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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