Misery and Splendor

By Robert Hass b. 1941 Robert Hass
Summoned by conscious recollection, she
would be smiling, they might be in a kitchen talking,
before or after dinner. But they are in this other room,
the window has many small panes, and they are on a couch
embracing. He holds her as tightly   
as he can, she buries herself in his body.
Morning, maybe it is evening, light
is flowing through the room. Outside,
the day is slowly succeeded by night,
succeeded by day. The process wobbles wildly
and accelerates: weeks, months, years. The light in the room
does not change, so it is plain what is happening.
They are trying to become one creature,
and something will not have it. They are tender
with each other, afraid
their brief, sharp cries will reconcile them to the moment
when they fall away again. So they rub against each other,
their mouths dry, then wet, then dry.
They feel themselves at the center of a powerful
and baffled will. They feel
they are an almost animal,
washed up on the shore of a world—
or huddled against the gate of a garden—
to which they can’t admit they can never be admitted.

“Misery and Splendor” from Human Wishes by Robert Hass. Copyright © 1989 by Robert Hass. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, www.harpercollins.com.

Source: Human Wishes (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1989)

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Poet Robert Hass b. 1941

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Relationships, Love, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Elegy, Metaphor

 Robert  Hass

Biography

Robert Hass is one of contemporary poetry’s most celebrated and widely-read voices. In addition to his success as a poet, Hass is also recognized as a leading critic and translator, notably of the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and Japanese haiku masters Basho, Buson and Issa. Critics celebrate Hass’s own poetry for its clarity of expression, its conciseness, and its imagery, often drawn from everyday life. “Hass has noted his own . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Elegy, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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