Outbreak

By Donald Revell b. 1954 Donald Revell

(variations on the testimony and excommunication of
Anne Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1637-1638)

I.

Given to sweet motion
the wilderness believes
one fair one of flowers
to be a moral blossom.
We go so far. Walks now,
only legend remaining.

"I came afterwards to the window when you was writing."

But in their documents
her judges had written
                                    "Insolent."

In its branches
spirit shelters
air with wailing.
The air thunders
unavailingly there.

"Fear is a snare. Why should I be afraid."

                            If I was in error
                            but not mistaken,
                            if my glass was gone
                            but not broken
                                              (defaced)

2.

My path illuminates
all the interior of
a dusky mirror, the
left shoulder higher
than the right is in
memory's intricate.

We must study distinctions aftertimes will adore.
if the glass be taken away, we shall see more.

God is going. Walks now, only God remaining.


                           (wanting)
an immediate promise He will deliver them
(wanting)         in a day of trouble

These emotions she retained
in the universal heart, in
a new eye: rational charity
                              active piety
                              appearing as blindness appears
                              in the face in bright sunlight
                              exactly like a smile.


3.

"Here is a great stir about graces
and looking to hearts, but give me
Christ. Tell me not of meditations
and duties, but tell me of Christ."
Christ is one thing. The soul is another
the wild outskirt
of the earth will
prove the ruin of.

And mischief, the poor babe, grew in the forest.
                                              (defaced)

A stick a bunch of rags a flower
need no transformation. The hour
given to sweet motion is a soul.

I came to the window when God was going.
In low condition,
little number and
remoteness things

                           outbreaks of temper
                           had a kind of value
                           and even a comfort.


4.

A memory a promise or a flower sheared away
was not made
                     but taken from a bush of wild roses.
Seeing them, she began to cry out for a red rose.

"God has left me to distinguish
between the voice of my Beloved
and John Baptist and Antichrist."
But daybreak unites what belongs together,
and there are two kinds of distinction.
There are (something wanting)

"What he declares he does not know himself."

I know a day of small
and a day of infancy.
At the window vividly
just now and entirely
inarticulate the form
given to sweet motion

broke apart and
                         there's colors all
kinds all round.

5.

Of realities surrounding us,
their pith and substance was
                                           wasted
                                           wronged
                                           misplaced.

"I desire to speak to our teacher."

                                           In a state of desire,
                                           what belongs together
                                           ignores the barriers.

Daybreak
have you
any word
your own
or I one
fair one
remaining?

God is gone, only a window and a wilderness
remaining, not made but taken,
thinnest fantasy of beginnings

taken from a bush of wild red roses.

“Outbreak” by Donald Revell from There are Three (Wesleyan University Press, 1998). © 1998 by Donald Revell and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press, www.wesleyan.edu/wespress.

Source: There are Three (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

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

Poet Donald Revell b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Gender & Sexuality, Faith & Doubt, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Crime & Punishment, Religion, Christianity, God & the Divine

 Donald  Revell

Biography

Born in the Bronx, Donald Revell received his PhD at SUNY Buffalo and is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, translations, and essays. Steeped in the work of Henry David Thoreau and William Carlos Williams, Revell’s poetry is “seriously Christian but not doctrinaire, mystical without setting intellect aside, angry over political matters without ever growing stale or shrill, and more often joyful than any other . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Gender & Sexuality, Faith & Doubt, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Crime & Punishment, Religion, Christianity, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

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.