Et Quidquid Aspiciebam Mors Erat

By Robert Fitzgerald 1910–1985 Robert Fitzgerald
“In this and whatever days to come   
The transparent world and its motions   
Compose a sheer void. How could   
That be removed upon which every   
Animate joy was founded? What   
Thrives now but the vile face of nature   
Made up by the sun to idiot glory?   
Let it sway and blow its intrinsic   
Monotony of vapors, seasons,   
Tumblebugs and blind men; let me   
Weep and curse those begetting fools,   
And honorably weep my life long.

“You would not cover me over   
With the dropping indecent clods,   
You sanctimonious bastards: take   
Such of my hatred as is left
When I have cursed the aspergent   
Water shaker with his stole, his   
Sotto voce Latin sing song;
You craving, self-important ghouls,   
Let me alone, or I will show you   
The savage green sprouting
Through the obscene holes of your eyes.

“Gone out of the air, not gone
Out of my nightly vision, yet
With desperate years to be corrupted   
There too, wasted, thinned
To the damned ghost of your convention—
You win in the end—he who was
So distinguished for patience,
For suffering, for valor,
Of such sensible pale fingers,   
A humorous, wise man.

“Hereby I curse this hard city   
And its whoring, golfing, political   
Poker-playing men, all those
Who were schoolfellows or friends   
In the old time, and never,
Though good churchgoers, visited him.   
And I engrave here my small blessing   
On that large silent decent one   
Who thought it friendliness to do so;   
Him and few others would I spare,   
But let the rest go rot in a worse   
Hell than even their own world is.   
Yet their unawareness is his grace,   
If grace be in this charnel progress:   
His ten-year sickroom I say
Shames with life their death forever,   
And all is death elsewhere.”

Robert Fitzgerald, “Et Quidquid Aspiciebam Mors Erat” from Spring Shade: Poems 1931-1970. Copyright © 1969 by Robert Fitzgerald. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Spring Shade: Poems 1931-1970 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1971)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Robert Fitzgerald 1910–1985

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Relationships, Social Commentaries

 Robert  Fitzgerald

Biography

Robert Fitzgerald (1910 - 1985) was born in Springfield, Illinois, and attended Harvard University, where he received an excellent education in the classics. After college, he started to translate Greek poetry to keep up his skills. They were published and soon earned him the reputation as one of the best Greek translators in English. Though more known for his translations, Fitzgerald is also a poet in his own right. In poems . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Relationships, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.