“Majesty”

By Keith Waldrop b. 1932 Keith Waldrop
Among other economies, I’m of two
minds, one possessed, the other
a deep peace. Violent trembling
seizes me, launched in the interval.

Enemy of children, of quaint little
things, of jokes and pictures. Enemy
of comic papers and caricatures, of
water-drinking. Too short for tragedy.

Rarely has a large or distant expedition
ever succeeded in its object, as may be
seen in the failure of foreign missions, of
human development, the immediate phenomena.

Sympathy for the victors, who gallantly
perish. Collateral catastrophes, as if they
had a will. The more distinctive visual images
sail too long, relinquish, burst.

The “inner voice” is playing a game. Eagerness
and obstinacy. A mysterious invisible
placed in the mouth. We know too well how
terrible it is to contend against personality.

The whole idyll vanishes. Southward along
a coastline, down among cities. Across the
gulf to the promontory. Probably
astonished. Not without mistrust.

You are now my prisoner. Physically I am
myself. Cultivated living, good manners, rich
food and drink, order and elegance in
my house. Erect military bearing.

Keith Waldrop, “‘Majesty’” from Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy. Copyright © 2009 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press, 2009)

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Poet Keith Waldrop b. 1932

Subjects Social Commentaries, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Biography

Keith Waldrop, who was awarded the 2009 National Book Award for poetry for Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy, has been a prominent voice in American poetry for over forty years.  He is the author of over a dozen books of poetry, prose, and translations. With Rosmarie Waldrop he co-edits Burning Deck Press.

Waldrop was born in Emporia, Kansas in 1932. He enrolled in the pre-med program at Kansas State Teacher’s College, but his . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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