The Monument and the Shrine

By John Logan 1923–1987 John Logan

At focus in the national   
Park’s ellipse a marker   
Draws tight the guys of

Miles, opposite the national   
Obelisk with its restless oval   
Peoples who shall be

Deeply drawn to its   
Austerities: or
For a moment try the mystery

Of the god-like eye, before   
Our long climb down past relic   
Schoolboy names and states

And one foolish man   
Climbs up, his death high   
In his elliptic face.


A double highway little   
Used in early spring
Goes to the end of the land

Where Washington’s chandeliers   
Are kept, his beds and chairs,   
His roped-off relic kitchen

Spits, his pans; his floors
Are worn underneath the dead   
Pilgrims’ feet; outside

The not-so-visited tomb;   
And over the field and fence   
His legendary river:

And so I walk although   
The day is cold for this;   
I eat a thin slice

Of bread and one remarkable   
Egg perfectly shaped,   
A perfect oriental por-

Celain sheen of white.   
Suddenly the lost   
Ghosts of his life

Broke from the trees and from the cold   
Mud pools where he played   
A boy and set as a man

The sand glint of his boot,
The flick of his coat on the weeds;   
His wheels click in the single road.

John Logan, “The Monument and the Shrine” from John Logan: The Collected Poems. Copyright © 1989 by The Estate of John Logan. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.,

Source: John Logan: The Collected Poems (BOA Editions Ltd., 1989)

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Poet John Logan 1923–1987

Subjects History & Politics, Heroes & Patriotism, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse


The late John Logan "was considered one of the superb lyrical poets of his generation," his publisher A. Poulin, Jr., told the Los Angeles Times. "He referred to poetry as a ballet for the ear." Logan, who was also the founder-editor of the poetry magazine Choice, is remembered as the inventor of what poet Hayden Carruth, writing in the American Book Review, once termed "postacademic academic poetry." Carruth explained the term . . .

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SUBJECT History & Politics, Heroes & Patriotism, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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