Ralegh’s Prizes

By Robert Pinsky b. 1940 Robert Pinsky
And Summer turns her head with its dark tangle   
All the way toward us; and the trees are heavy,   
With little sprays of limp green maple and linden   
Adhering after a rainstorm to the sidewalk   
Where yellow pollen dries in pools and runnels.

Along the oceanfront, pink neon at dusk:
The long, late dusk, a light wind from the water   
Lifting a girl’s hair forward against her cheek
And swaying a chain of bulbs.
                                              In luminous booths,
The bright, traditional wheel is on its ratchet,
And ticking gaily at its little pawl;
And the surf revolves; and passing cars and people,
Their brilliant colors—all strange and hopeful as Ralegh’s   
Trophies: the balsam, the prizes of untried virtue,   
Bananas and armadillos that a Captain
Carries his Monarch from another world.

Robert Pinsky, “Ralegh’s Prizes” from History of My Heart. Copyright © 1984 by Robert Pinsky. Used by permission of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, LLC., www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1996)

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Poet Robert Pinsky b. 1940

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Summer, Nature

Holidays Labor Day

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

 Robert  Pinsky


Robert Pinsky is one of America’s foremost poet-critics. Often called the last of the “civic” or public poets, Pinsky’s criticism and verse reflect his concern for a contemporary poetic diction that nonetheless speaks of a wider experience. Elected Poet Laureate of the United States in 1997, his tenure was marked by ambitious efforts to prove the power of poetry—not just as an intellectual pursuit in the ivory tower, but as a . . .

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SUBJECT Summer, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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