Buried at Springs

By James Schuyler 1923–1991 James Schuyler
There is a hornet in the room   
and one of us will have to go   
out the window into the late   
August midafternoon sun. I
won. There is a certain challenge   
in being humane to hornets   
but not much. A launch draws   
two lines of wake behind it   
on the bay like a delta
with a melted base. Sandy   
billows, or so they look,
of feathery ripe heads of grass,   
an acid-yellow kind of
goldenrod glowing or glowering   
in shade. Rocks with rags   
of shadow, washed dust clouts   
that will never bleach.
It is not like this at all.   
The rapid running of the   
lapping water a hollow knock
of someone shipping oars:   
it’s eleven years since   
Frank sat at this desk and   
saw and heard it all   
the incessant water the   
immutable crickets only   
not the same: new needles   
on the spruce, new seaweed   
on the low-tide rocks   
other grass and other water   
even the great gold lichen   
on a granite boulder   
even the boulder quite   
literally is not the same

      II
A day subtle and suppressed   
in mounds of juniper enfolding   
scratchy pockets of shadow
while bigness—rocks, trees, a stump—
stands shadowless in an overcast   
of ripe grass. There is nothing   
but shade, like the boggy depths   
of a stand of spruce, its resonance   
just the thin scream
of mosquitoes ascending.
Boats are light lumps on the bay   
stretching past erased islands   
to ocean and the terrible tumble   
and London (“rain persisting”)   
and Paris (“changing to rain”).   
Delicate day, setting the bright
of a young spruce against the cold
of an old one hung with unripe cones   
each exuding at its tip
gum, pungent, clear as a tear,   
a day tarnished and fractured   
as the quartz in the rocks
of a dulled and distant point,   
a day like a gull passing
with a slow flapping of wings   
in a kind of lope, without
breeze enough to shake loose   
the last of the fireweed flowers,
a faintly clammy day, like wet silk   
stained by one dead branch   
the harsh russet of dried blood.

James Schuyler, “Buried at Springs” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1993 by James Schuyler. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & 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: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1993)

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Poet James Schuyler 1923–1991

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Subjects Nature, Living, Summer, Sorrow & Grieving, Weather, Death

Occasions Funerals

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy

Biography

Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Schuyler was a central member of the New York School.  He was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent his teen years in East Aurora, New York, before attending Bethany College in West Virginia. During World War II, Schuyler served on a destroyer in the North Atlantic and remained in the US Navy until 1947. Before moving to New York in 1950, Schuyler lived for two years on the Isle of Ischia in Italy . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Living, Summer, Sorrow & Grieving, Weather, Death

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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