Freely Espousing

By James Schuyler 1923–1991 James Schuyler
a commingling sky

                      a semi-tropic night
                      that cast the blackest shadow
                      of the easily torn, untrembling banana leaf

or Quebec! what a horrible city
so Steubenville is better?
                          the sinking sensation
when someone drowns thinking, “This can’t be happening to me!”
the profit of excavating the battlefield where Hannibal whomped the Romans
the sinuous beauty of words like allergy
the tonic resonance of
pill when used as in
“she is a pill”
on the other hand I am not going to espouse any short stories in which lawn mowers clack.
No, it is absolutely forbidden
for words to echo the act described; or try to. Except very directly
as in
bong. And tickle. Oh it is inescapable kiss.
Marriages of the atmosphere
are worth celebrating
                          where Tudor City
catches the sky or the glass side
of a building lit up at night in fog
“What is that gold-green tetrahedron down the river?”
“You are experiencing a new sensation.”

               if the touch-me-nots
               are not in bloom
               neither are the chrysanthemums
the bales of pink cotton candy
in the slanting light
                are ornamental cherry trees.
                The greens around them, and
                the browns, the grays, are the park.
It’s. Hmm. No.
             Their scallop shell of quiet
             is the S.S. United States.
             It is not so quiet and they
             are a medium-size couple who
             when they fold each other up
             well, thrill. That’s their story.

James Schuyler, “Freely Espousing” 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)

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

Poet James Schuyler 1923–1991

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Popular Culture, Cities & Urban Life

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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Popular Culture, Cities & Urban Life

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

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.